Borough of East Rutherford, NJ

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East Rutherford teens organize 6/11 Festival focused on suicide prevention

Four years ago, two 16-year-olds from East Rutherford had an idea for an event that would draw attention to the growing number of suicides in New Jersey. In 2013, high school freshman Faith Banca and Rebecca Cruz organized the first Sing into the Sunlight Concert & Festival. On Saturday, June 11, 2016, the fourth annual event will again put a spotlight on suicide prevention and awareness.

The free event is from 4-9 p.m. at Sesselman Park and Bandshell, and will feature a variety of food vendors and musical performances by GoodWorks, Pursuing JC and Sam Houston. In addition, the festival will have activities that appeal to all ages such as arts and crafts, yoga, face painting, volleyball tournament, pie throws and more. Booths, handouts and speakers will inform attendees about suicide, mental illness and how to live happier lives.

"Almost everyone knows someone dealing with a mental illness that could lead to suicidal thoughts, and if not treated, suicide itself," said Banca. "Nobody wants to talk about suicide, which hides people who are suffering in the dark. We thought it was important to shine a light on this important issue," Cruz added.

Since the first concert, co-founders Banca and Cruz established the Into the Sunlight organization to raise awareness for suicide prevention and end the stigma of mental illness. The organization has held several other events, including spaghetti dinner and karaoke nights called Dine into the Sunlight. Banca and Cruz are now freshman in college.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death in New Jersey for 24-34 year olds and the third leading cause of death for 15-24 year olds. Each year, nearly 43,000 Americans die by suicide, and many attempts go unreported or untreated.

Sponsors of the event include Anabella's and the East Rutherford Civic Pride Association. To donate or become a sponsor, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Proceeds from the event go to programs for suicide prevention, mental health awareness, and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

For more details, visit or on Facebook at

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