Today I was contacted by a father named Ed Schwartzman, a very sad, but hopeful man who shared an amazing story about his son Ben who died by suicide on October 15, 2007 – he was only 19 years old. Since Ben's death, his father's goal has been to help reduce the number of teen suicides. As I looked at hundreds of pictures of Ben on his facebook group, I noticed how handsome and fun he looked, just a regular young man in high school doing his thing. I don't know the whole story except that he had bipolar disorder, a very pretty girlfriend and he loved to play the guitar. He was smiling and masked any sense of pain because his face always seemed lit up of sparkling laughter, except one picture where he looked weary and somewhat forlorn. His father mentioned that many other teens commit suicide – but there is something significant about Ben’s life that could make his death the turning point in battling both mental illness and teen suicide. Ben had a gift and I surely felt this truth today. As I clicked on myspace and listened to "Which Way to Harlem", I loved the groove and how Ben talked about how we all have a little bit of love and "Big Man" was amazingly fun and upbeat! Ben's father says that the words and music his son left behind are an insight into what he and others are experiencing. In addition, Ben’s younger sister Hayley has now recorded a song “Your Choice” which has the potential of becoming a worldwide anti-suicide anthem. As I listen to Ben's music I am reminded that having bipolar disorder is not all dark, drowning and depressing, but I also know, as many others with bipolar, what it is like to take that dive off to the other side, I am just so sad that Ben did not return. I am thrilled that Ed and Hayley are working to produce a two-CD box set with all the proceeds of this project to raise money and awareness to help reduce the crippling effects of depression and bi-polar disorder. I see so much beauty in this music that I would like to consider using it as part of the Bipolar Disorder Society of BC classroom projects and I see it as music to a video that I may produce and share with kids when I do presentations. I have a lot of ideas! Perhaps we could share Ben's music online off the babe site with the world. I believe that we can all work together to make anything happen. I see Ed's dream as quite attainable. I will do everything I can to help and I hope to hear the entire CD collection soon! Much love to Ben and his family, you are beautiful people! Here is a link to four of Ben's eleven songs: http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewProfile&friendID=234995711 Here is a link to Hayley's song "Your Choice" http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewProfile&friendID=423948024 Love, Andrea Paquette (BIPOLAR BABE) , President, BDSBC
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