BREAK THROUGH THE STATIC

Surviving Suicide. Rebuilding Lives.

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  • Framing Teens’ Experiences

    Public Art Commissioner Acebo Davis, PAUSD Nurse Linda Lenoir, Mayor Yiaway Yeh + teen artists dancing!

    Thank you to Palo Alto Art Center for helping us hang the art at City Hall

    Gunn High School student artists at Bon Vivant with Static Founder Jade

    Break Through the Static and the Palo Alto Youth Collaborative hosted a series of Teen Art Exhibition Events featuring nearly eighty pieces of powerful and revealing art created by students at Gunn High School, with Static and other youth-supporting organizations. The events took place at Mike’s Cafe, two locations of Philz Coffee, Vino Locale, Bon Vivant and King Plaza at Palo Alto City Hall. Teen art was showcased at each event, in addition to performance art by local teen musicians! From the first Preview Event at Mike’s Cafe to the Grand Exhibition Event at City Hall, the Teen Art Exhibition Project made a BIG impact on the Palo Alto community.


    The passion of the teen artists drove this project. Longing to establish stronger relationships with their community, local teens opened themselves up through visual and performance art. They allowed their parents, peers and community members to enter into their stories and discover their authentic selves. The response was overwhelmingly positive. Philz Coffee, one of our business partners, announced at the Grand Opening Exhibition that they are launching a monthly open
    mic event for local youth!

    At the Grand Opening Ceremony at City Hall, Palo Alto Mayor Yiaway Yeh gave an inspiring keynote address on the importance of youth self-expression. I overheard adults speak of their awe and astonishment of our youth’s ability to voice their emotions and reflect on their lives through their art. This is how I know this event made a great impact. At the event, teens came up to me asking, “Can I be a part of future projects?”. They told me how happy they they were to see so many people engaging with their art. I want to applaud the teens for their resilience, courage and vulnerability to share their lives with the community of Palo Alto, for without them, this event would not have been possible.

    Together, we created a platform for teen self-expression through the arts. Together we helped strengthen the relationships between teens and local businesses. Together we as a community stood alongside our youth and showed them how much we care about their stories and lives.

    To the bright future of our youth and our community,
    Tia from Team Static

  • Press Release | Teen Art Exhibition Events

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    9a, Pacific Time, Thurs., Mar. 8, 2012

    CONTACT: Jade Chamness

    Phone: (650) 404.7895

    Download Press Release [PDF] here.


    Framing Teens’ Experiences:

    Local Businesses Host Teen Art Exhibitions & Support Our Teens’ Artistic Expression

    Break Through the Static (“Static”) and the Palo Alto Youth Collaborative (“Youth Collaborative”) will host a series of unique art exhibitions featuring nearly eighty pieces of powerful and revealing art created by students at Gunn High School, with Static and other youth-supporting organizations. Static is an organization that supports and empowers teens impacted by suicide through creative arts and other healthy outlets. The six exhibition events will take place Thursday March 15th through Friday March 23rd. Teen musicians, poets, and visual artists will participate in the receptions across Palo Alto, performing or showcasing art that is rooted in their own “life-shaping experiences”. Palo Alto Mayor Yiaway Yeh will give the keynote address at the Grand Opening Ceremony.

    The Teen Art Exhibition is the result of a partnership between the Youth Collaborative, Static, Gunn High School Visual Art Department, Gunn art students, and five Palo Alto small businesses. Since September 2011, Gunn art teacher and Drawing and Painting Program instructor Deanna Messinger and Static Founder and CEO Jade Chamness have engaged eighty high school students in a curriculum to create “self-portraits rooted in their life-shaping experiences”. The art creation process took place in Messinger’s art classes and in Static’s Art Retreats open to teens across the Peninsula.

    This project was inspired by conversations between teens and adults at the City of Palo Alto’s first Youth Forum in 2010. There, teens expressed their desire for stronger relationships with local businesses and more opportunities for teens to gather, where they might also create and perform music and other art forms.

    Former arts administrator, marketing professional and co-curator of the Teen Art Exhibitions, Carolyn Digovich said, “I joined the Youth Collaborative at that very meeting and began planning for a way to create safe spaces for teens’ artistic expression and combine that with local business owners who were interested in reaching out to support teens – especially to showcase their art.”  Deanna Messinger remarked, “The painting of a non-traditional self-portrait seemed like a good way for the Drawing and Painting students to express what it is like for them to be who they are in Palo Alto”. Jade Chamness joined this project because it is “all about collaboration and teens need more opportunities to express themselves.”
    According to Digovich, “The artwork is in the form of self-portraits, and reflects teens’ tremendous resilience. Some pieces are hauntingly beautiful; others humbly uplifting; others graphically honest – all mesmerizing.”
    Chamness, Digovich and Messinger encourage teens, adults and business owners to celebrate the resilience of teens in our community, engage with their powerful art and narratives, listen to local teen musicians, and support the businesses who support our teens.

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    About Break Through the Static

    Break Through the Static (“Static”), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is an early innovator in the nationwide movement to improve the support and services available for suicide-bereaved teens. Static has a unique, peer-support program model, and is currently nurturing their first supportive and healthy community for teens on the San Francisco Peninsula through a network of small groups, retreats, special events and a Teen Advisory Board. Static will continue nurturing communities in cities across the nation until the United States is a place where teens feel safe and supported talking about the “hard stuff” – in their homes, at their schools, in their communities; and until the stigma surrounding suicide and mental illness is gone. Erased. A thing of the past. Website: www.breakthroughthestatic.org; Facebook: facebook.com/BreakThroughtheStatic; Twitter: @BreakTTStatic

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    Teen Art Exhibition Event Schedule

    Teen Art Preview Events*
    3/15: 2:30 – 4:00pm at Mike’s Café at 2680 Middlefield Road
    3/16: 5:00 – 7:00pm at Philz Coffee at 101 Forest Avenue
    3/17: 12:00 – 2:00pm at Vino Locale at 431 Kipling Street
    4:00 – 6:00pm at Philz Coffee at 3191 Middlefield Road
    3/18: 3:00 – 5:00pm at Bon Vivant at 535 Bryant Street

    *Preview Events will include live music by teen musicians and messages by special guests
    Grand Opening Ceremony**

    3/23: 5:00 – 7:00 pm at Palo Alto’s City Hall at 250 Hamilton Avenue

    **Yiaway Yeh, the Mayor of Palo Alto, will give the keynote address on youth empowerment

  • Teens Express Themselves Through Art

    Hello friends,

    This is Tia from Team Static. I wanted to tell you about a exciting community-wide project our organization is organizing alongside the Palo Alto Youth Collaborative: a Teen Art Exhibition! Since the beginning of the 2011/2012 school year, Palo Alto and Peninsula teens have been creating powerful and revealing art rooted in their experiences with suicide and other life-shaping events. The incredible art will be featured in five locally-owned Palo Alto businesses from March 16th – 18th, providing business owners with a tangible way to enhance the well-being of Palo Alto youth by offering them a cathartic platform to express themselves and process their life-shaping experiences through creative art.

    This past Sunday, Static hosted a art retreat for local teens at the Mid-Peninsula Media Center in Palo Alto. Teens created art based on their life-shaping experiences with courage, resilience and strength. We started out with fun icebreaker games involving a beach ball where teens were posed questions like: “What was your childhood fear?” and “What change do you want to see in the way your school handles mental health?” Then teens spent a couple hours reflecting on their lives and creating beautiful representations of their experiences along with a powerful written narratives.

    I really enjoyed our final debrief, because the teens shared the stories behind their artwork. They touched upon issues of suicide, cancer, adoption, individuality, hope and excitement for a better future. These teens courageously discussed their pain and their hopes. Their fight for healing, freedom and their longing to make a difference in the world amazed me. I left inspired.

    Nearly 100 pieces of teen artwork and their powerful narratives will be showcased in the Teen Art Exhibition events the weekend of March 16th – 18th. We invite you to attend these events or volunteer with us! For more information, email me at intern@breakthroughthestatic.org.


    With great hope + excitement for the future of our youth,
    Tia

  • Tia Joins Static!

    Hi! My name is Tia Galindo and I am the new intern for Break Through the Static for spring 2012. I wanted to share with you a bit about myself and why I wanted to get involved with Static.

    When I was young, my mother and father were drug addicts and alcoholics, and my mother abused me. My dad wanted to sober up but there were complications. I was sent to a foster home where I was abused. I was eventually rescued from the foster home by my dad who had gotten sober. A few years later he relapsed and starting abusing substances again.

    I was ashamed of my dad’s substance abuse, and felt like I had to hide my life and my feelings, so I could appear normal — like the other kids. Soon I was carrying guilt and shame for my dad’s actions and that weighed down my life and prevented true friendships. I felt abnormal, and started to lie to others to hide my life and pain. I had always loved to sing and write, and began using them as tools to make myself happy and release my pain. That’s how I found truth. Eventually I learned to face this pain and guilt and not hide it.

    Eventually my dad kicked his bad habits. He is an amazing man and although he had/has his faults he raised me well. So when I met Jade and she told me about Static’s vision of helping teens that carry guilt and shame for others’ actions such as death by suicide, I immediately knew that this was the internship for me. I believe that I can relate to teens impacted by suicide because I too experienced guilt and shame.

    I am so stoked to be a part of Static this spring, and learn and grow with the organization as we take steps to de-stigmatize suicide and support suicide-bereaved teens.

    -Tia

  • ‘Tis the season to be jolly — but not for everyone

    Every day in America, more than 100 people die by suicide. That means every day hundreds of unsuspecting people receive the awful news that someone they love took his or her own life. Fathers who always set up the tree, brothers who insisted on lighting the menorah, aunts who sang Christmas carols as they sliced the turkey, suddenly, unimaginably, are gone forever. Families feel the depth and breadth of their grief especially during the holidays.

    Do you remember the 2009 teen suicide cluster in Palo Alto? In the past two years more than seven teens died by suicide in this perceived Bay Area haven. Seven. Their classmates, teammates, best friends and siblings are still trying to make sense of the deaths. This holiday season, suicide-bereaved families are deeply sensing the absence of their children and siblings.

    In a community that has experienced a rude awakening about the fragility of life, teens are desperately trying to figure out why their friends are taking their lives, and where to go for support. The topic of suicide can be heavily stigmatized at school, in the home, and even among friends. Palo Alto teens are quickly realizing — the hard way — that our country is not an easy place to live once you’ve been affected by suicide.

    Studies suggest that if suicide-bereaved teens don’t have a safe place to process their experience, they are more likely to suffer from depression, post-traumatic stress, substance abuse, and thoughts of suicide. Some may even take their own lives — IF they don’t have a safe place to process. But what if they do? They have the rare, if unenviable opportunity to develop resilience and offer support to other teens that have been affected by suicide. This skill can help them learn to manage stress more efficiently and successfully navigate life’s inevitable ups and downs.

    It is this challenge/opportunity that inspired me to found Break Through the Static (Static) two years ago, creating a safe place that provides in-person peer support to suicide-bereaved teenagers. I know the pain of this challenge, and am realizing the opportunity to give of myself: My own father took his life when I was a teen and I live with the grief, the questions, and the mourning every day.

    Since 2009, Static has been there for more than 300 teens from 250 suicide-bereaved families and 20 Bay Area Peninsula high schools. Here are a few of their stories:

    • An 18-year-old singer/songwriter lost an uncle and a friend to suicide, and sometimes cuts himself as a way to “deal” with his depression. He attends our songwriting and poetry groups where he creatively processes his grief through his music. He reported that our groups have helped him address his pain.
    • A 15-year-old girl lost her little sister to suicide four months ago. She attended our recent art retreat, and painted two pictures of her sister’s bedroom — one before and one after her death. The first shows clothes strewn across the floor and the bed unmade. The second depicts a spotless, organized “too clean” room that reminds her of her sister every time she walks by.
    • A 17-year-old girl lost her dad to suicide. The counselor at the local grief group asked if she was kidding when she told her that her dad had taken his life. She sits in the circle with tears running down her face, yearning for a place to go where she feels understood. Ten years ago, that girl was me.

    Until Static, teen survivors of suicide had nowhere to turn for help with their overwhelming feelings — anger, despair, frustration, self-blame. With families in grief and communities emotionally paralyzed, Static’s community of support and healing can help turn personal tragedy to an opportunity for growth. While the loved one will never return, and the loss may never be all right, Static helps teens affected by suicide out of the abyss and onto a productive course. So this holiday season, as the lights are twinkling on the tree and you’re sipping a delicious Anchor Christmas Ale, I invite you to join me in sending some good tidings and a bit of joy to the teens mourning a loss to suicide. This holiday will be a difficult time, and they could use all the good cheer we can share.

    Jade Chamness, Founder and CEO of Break Through the Static, lost her father to suicide when she was 17. Watch her recent TEDxYouth talk to learn more about her experience and why she started Static. Website: www.breakthroughthestatic.org.

  • Intern Anna’s Final Blog Entry

    Interning for Break Through the Static has been like no experience I’ve ever encountered. I would have never guessed that my boss, Jade, would become one of my closest friends in San Francisco or that our Teen Advisory Board would both challenge and inspire me in ways that my friends from elementary school never have before.

    One of my biggest growing experiences with Static was the 13th Annual Survivors of Suicide conference. We attended the conference with a handful of the teens from our Teen Advisory Board (TAB). At the conference, mothers, brothers, and daughters shared their raw stories about losing someone to suicide. After the speakers, we broke into groups and I joined our TAB members. I was able to hear the heart wrenching stories of 14 year old girls discuss their experience with suicide as well as share my own family’s walk with a family member that struggles with suicide. That day, Static’s teens taught me the beauty of a vulnerable heart.

    Something I would have never guessed coming into this internship is the passion teenagers have. My most life giving experiences this internship has been our bi-monthly meetings with the Teen Advisory Board. Each meeting, the kids strive to create a safe space to expose their struggles, dreams, and passions to bring teen mental health awareness in the Palo Alto community. I believe that adults need to have a more open mind like the new generation of youth.

    Break Through the Static is like no organization I’ve ever heard of. Programs like Static’s bonfire, Teen Advisory Board, and our art retreat have opened my eyes to the beauty of exposing our scars and feeling the pain instead of numbing the pain. Thank you Break Through the Static, I can’t wait to see all the lives you will transform in the years to come.

    - Anna

  • Intern Anna’s Reflections – 4 weeks left with Static!

    Mayra – TAB member, Jade – Founder, Lydia – TAB member, Anna – Intern

    I have been interning with Break Through the Static for the last three months, and I have seen our community grow exponentially.

    My first day on the job began at Static’s Bonfire event, which included over 150 local Palo Alto teens and amazing live music performed by local teens. There I met some of the most driven and inspirational teens I have ever met. This epic event allowed tons of teenagers to be exposed to a community that truly wants to support and empower teens who have been impacted by suicide.

    Since then, Break Through the Static has launched our first ever year-long Teen Advisory Board (TAB) and we are currently piloting our first Small Group. More and more students are hungry to be involved with Static each week, which has caused our organization to grow rapidly. It has been encouraging engaging with passionate teens who are open about the personal struggles they face around eating disorders, depression, and sexual orientation.

    I can honestly say that I have been learning more about honesty and vulnerability from Static’s high schoolers than any other time in my life. I wouldn’t trade these experiences for all the money in the world.

    - Anna

  • Anna Klassen joins Static!

    Hey Staticers!

    This is Anna Klassen and I am the new intern for Break Through the Static for this fall! It was AMAZING seeing everyone at the bonfire last Saturday. Over 140 of you showed up to learn more about Static’s new Peninsula community, and you brought so much energy. Thank you for being so welcoming to the newbie intern.

    I wanted to give you some background on why I wanted to be a part of Static -

    After hearing Jade’s passion for teens who have struggled or been affected by suicide, my heart was immediately drawn to the organization. I’m not kidding when I say that I bawled the first time I interacted with her after hearing her story. And that’s where my beginning with Break Through the Static started…

    For the past four years, my family has been trying to keep my 14-year-old sister alive. She has struggled with depression and suicide since I could remember.  Joining the Static team has started to give me hope that my baby sister will be okay and that there IS a community that can help her start to thrive on life, not just survive. And I am thrilled to be a part of it!

    And back to Static – we are currently signing kids up to be a part of the 2011/12 Teen Advisory Board (TAB), small groups and this winter’s ski/snowboard trip. If you’re interested in attending these programs or getting involved in another capacity, please send me an email at intern@breakthroughthestatic.org.

    I am so so SO excited to be working with the bubbly Jade and the Static team this fall. Looking forward to meeting you all at upcoming program and events!

    – Anna

  • Static Newsletter | August 2011

    To receive future Static newsletters like this, visit the “Contact Us” page, enter in your information, and select “add me to your mailing list”.

    Hello Friends of Break Through the Static!

    So much has happened in the “world of Static” since we last connected through this medium, and we are thrilled to send this update to you today.

    Building Static’s Community!

    This fall, we are facilitating our first official community of teens impacted by suicide and their advocates on the San Francisco Bay Area Peninsula. We hope that through involvement with our community, Peninsula teens impacted by suicide will 1) feel less alone in their experience with suicide, and will feel as though they are part of a supportive, healthy community and 2) gain healthy coping skills that help them to take steps towards processing their experience with suicide.

    Events for Teens

    • A bonfire! We’re hosting a bonfire (serving as a recruitment event) in Palo Alto this September for Peninsula youth. The goal of this event is to recruit ten youth to participate in our first session of closed monthly groups for teens impacted by suicide and their advocates. These groups will begin fall 2011. Check out the music video Kikim Media generously produced with us to promote the bonfire event on YouTubeEvent date: September 10th, 2011, also known as World Suicide Prevention Day!

    Teen Advisory Board member Kevin and his buddy Ryan from last Saturday’s Teens on the Green event in Palo Alto.

    • Forming a Teen Advisory Board! The last two summers we’ve facilitated a weekly group of driven, impassioned teens, some of which have been touched deeply by suicide, with the simple purpose of helping us from a “teen perspective” ensure Static is an organization that truly reaches teens and impacts their lives. These teens, called “Teen Advisory Board members” serve as advocates for Break Through the Static at their schools, help us plan and execute events, and provide crucial feedback to our team. This upcoming school year we will host a TAB that will have the exciting opportunity to pilot our private online community! TAB begins: Fall 2011.

    • We’re taking the kids to Tahoe! While we believe our closed groups will be the bread and butter of our communities, we anticipate our outdoor adventure retreats will be the highly anticipated dessert (and a strong community recruitment strategy). We’re fundraising our hearts out so we can take a group of teens involved with our community and their friends to Tahoe for a weekend of skiing/snowboarding as well as activities designed to get kids more deeply involved with our community, so they feel supported and learn more coping skills, with the ultimate goal of improving the quality of their lives!

      If you’re interested in giving to Static, helping us run these important programs, please click here to donate online. You may also send checks to Break Through the Static. PO Box 642454. San Francisco, CA 94164.

    Events for Teens and Adults

    • Monthly Static Community Groups! Open to the public – we hope you will join us! Intimate and inspiring topical coffee shop conversations – at Nob Hill’s premier Contraband Coffee Bar – that occasionally morph into rousing and passionate conversation about mental health and suicide prevention/postvention in America. We been facilitating these groups for a couple months now, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive, so we’re going to make this a monthly Static event! We hope you will join us. RSVP here. You’re invited to our next group, Wednesday, September 28th from 7:30p – 9:30p!
    • Volunteer Opportunity! Do you love taking photos? Enjoy meeting new people? Join the folks behind Break Through the Static as we inspire folks with the vision of Static, pass out flyers, and listen to peoples stories at the Greater San Francisco Bay Area’s American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Community Walk. It’s a powerful event where we connect with many suicide survivors, and we’d love for you to join us! Event Date: Sunday, September 25th

    Static Video

    We have been working alongside Paul Fifield and Steve Connell (of Fifield Productions and Ripple Effect Media, respectively) to produce a two-minute video that captures the history and vision of Break Through the Static. We are excited to announce the video is finished! A giant thank you to Paul, Steve, and everyone else who graciously gave countless hours of time to bring this “dream project” to life.

    click here to watch the video
    Click here to watch video on YouTube

    Break Through The Static
    P.O. Box 642454
    San Francisco, California 94164
    Email: info@breakthroughthestatic.org
    Twitter: @BreakTTStatic
  • Ari’s Reflection – ‘11 Summer Intern!

    My mom arrived home from a Break Through the Static fundraiser beaming and completely inspired by the amazing founder of the organization, Jade Chamness. She told me about Jade’s story and her nonprofit organization and I was instantly captivated. Since then, I have been lucky enough to spend a few weeks interning for Break Through the Static, and it has seriously been amazing and eye-opening!

    One of my favorite parts of Break Through the Static is the Teen Advisory Board (TAB). Every week, a group of motivated and really excited teens from local high schools gather to share their insight about what they think would be helpful and enjoyable for those involved. TAB has come up with some really awesome ideas regarding ways to create the community Jade and Team Static envision.

    Among these ideas is a monthly groups for teens in SF Bay Area, winter retreats and summer camps, and something I am really excited about – the upcoming bonfire!  Team Static is planning a really fun bonfire for this Fall for local teens who have been impacted by suicide and their advocates. There will be great food, live music, and good company — everyone should be there!!

    My experience with Static has been so enriching and it is really inspiring to see so much passion in an organization aimed at such an important cause. I can’t wait to watch Static grow and become a more central part of the community!

    - Ari

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