When Angela “Bucky” Motter takes the stage at the April 16 “Harmony for Life” suicide prevention benefit, it won’t be just to help a distant cause. For the transgender musician, the subject of suicide hits close to home.
“I’ve lost two people to suicide. I’ve battled and been medicated for depression for years now and I know that I am at risk myself,” Motter says. “Preventing suicide is important. But with that, there is also just as great a need to help survivors of suicide [family & friends left behind]. They need to know that it wasn’t their fault.”
The fourth annual “Harmony for Life” show, which raises money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, will be held at Eddie’s Attic on Friday, April 16. Performers include Motter, the Joe McGuinness Trio, Alexis Vear, Mike Kinnebrew, Vinyl Strangers, and more.
Besides donating time to AFSP, Motter also teaches guitar, acts, performs as a studio and live musician, and is a professional body builder, bringing home a silver medal from the Gay Games VI in Chicago 2006 in the “over-40 physique” category.
Harmony for Life Friday, April 16, 7:30 p.m. Eddie’s Attic 515-B N. McDonough St., Decatur, GA 30030 404-377-4976, www.eddiesattic.com
Motter identifies as transgender, and lost a transgender friend to suicide.
“Being transgendered is another risk factor for suicide. My friend had transgender issues that were not being addressed. I don’t know if he couldn’t address them or it was the doctor working with him. I’ll never know,” Motter says. “Doing this show is something that I can do to help others out who might be struggling.”
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Chris Owens, the Atlanta director for AFSP, notes that the fundraiser will not only include great entertainment, but also fantastic silent auction items.
“We’ve got an African safari for two, Air Tran tickets for two, a Florida resort trip, a stay at the Ritz Carlton in Washington, D.C., jewelry, artwork… all kinds of great things that people can bid on,” he says.
The AFSP fundraiser will send half of the money raised to its national headquarters and the other half will stay here and go towards survivor support. That includes training for support group facilitators, camp tuition for child survivors of suicide and an interactive screening program now in place at Agnes Scott College. AFSP is working to make it available to other institutions as well.
Owens stresses that suicide prevention is grossly underfunded. Atlanta has approximately seven researchers who work on prevention study programs.
“There is one suicide attempt every 16 minutes in the United States and about 1,000 suicides each year just in Georgia. It can be prevented and most people who commit suicide usually give warning signs,” Owens says. “Most people who die of suicide had a diagnosable psychiatric disorder that could have been treated.”
Within the last 25 years, more than 15 different studies have consistently shown much higher rates of suicide attempts among lesbian, gay and bisexual youth — as high as 20 percent to 40 percent among gay adolescents.
Russell and Joyner (2001) found that the risk of attempting suicide was twice as high among lesbian, gay and bisexual youth as among heterosexual youth. Safren and Heimberg (1999) reported that 30 percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual youth versus 13 percent of heterosexual youth had attempted suicide at some point. Eisenberg and Resnick (2006) found that of students grades 9 – 12, 52.4 percent of lesbian and bisexual females and 29 percent of gay and bisexual males had already attempted suicide.
“I’ve tried to get the gay community more involved,” Owens says. “It’s hard to bring them in, though.”
Anyone interested in donating an auction item for the fundraiser can contact Owens at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets to “Harmony for Life” cost $125 for a reserved table or $25 for general admission. Tickets may also be purchased at the door.
Photo: After losing friends to suicide, transgender musician Angela “Bucky” Motter wants ‘to help others who might be struggling.’ (Courtesy Motter)