Spreading a message of hope through music

Suicide awareness concert hopes to raise funds for Forsyth County prevention initiatives

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CUMMING, Ga. — In May of 2008, Sherry Unwala lost her son.

Karl took his life at the age of 25.

Three years later, on May 13, there will be a concert at The Warehouse in her son’s honor, to help raise funds for an organization that promotes suicide awareness in the community.

“We would like to target the youth,” Unwala said. “There has been a rash of suicides among the young.”

Karl was a musician and attended the University of Georgia, where he studied business.

“He was more of a humanitarian,” Unwala said. “He wanted to make the world a better place.”

While in California, Karl helped feed the poor, visited mentally challenged children and taught others how to have fun, Unwala said.

Money raised from Friday’s concert will fund the efforts of Suicide Prevention Action Network of Georgia (SPAN-GA).

Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death among all Georgians and the third most common cause of death among youth 15-24 years old. It’s the second leading cause of death among adults 25-34 years old, according to a 2005 Georgia Department of Community Health report.

Each year, about 900 people die of intentional, self-inflicted wounds in the state.

And between 1994 and 2002, there were 93 suicides in Forsyth County. In that same period, there were 77 hospitalizations due to intentional, self-inflicted injury in the county.

Since Karl’s death, Unwala has been on a journey to educate others about suicide prevention.

“This is not the path I chose,” Unwala said. “It chose me.”

In March, she joined Gov. Nathan Deal along with other SPAN-GA volunteers at the State Capitol.

Deal signed a bill proclaiming the first week in September as Suicide Prevention and Awareness Week.

SPAN-GA is an organization that supports suicide prevention and empowers survivors of completed suicides and suicide attempts. The lobbying group is actively involved in educating the community on the emotional and financial costs of suicide in the state.

“We are trying to keep the money raised from the concert here in Forsyth County,” Unwala said. “I’ve been talking to the school superintendent to raise awareness in our schools.”

For more information, contact 404-660-0907 or 678-469-5225.

IF YOU GO:

When: 7 p.m. Friday, May 13

Where: The Warehouse, 5095 Post Road in Cumming

What: Karl’s Call For Life, a live music event with bands Wrestling Jacob, Jamie Crossland and Southern Accent. Speaker Jim Osterman will talk about his struggles with depression.

Why: A fundraising event for Suicide Prevention Action Network of Georgia