Suicide is an issue of great concern to the Bhutanese community. In order to call attention to this issue, Bhutanese artists have collectively written a music video called “Stop Suicide.” The Druk Fusion Band, Menuka Memorial Foundation, Rhythm Screen Creation, and the International Institute of Akron presented an event to release this video on February 28.
In addition to releasing the video, several professional speakers (see below) talked about their experience with mental health issues. There were also live performances by local and national Bhutanese and Nepalese artists who conveyed information through artistic entertainment in dance and music. The event was designed to open up dialogue among Bhuitanese community members about mental health issues that will lead to treatment and prevention of suicide.
The event took place on Saturday, February 28, 2015 beginning at 2:00 P.M. in the North High School auditorium located at 985 Gorge Boulevard in Akron, Ohio 44310. There was no admission charge and everyone was invited.
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Chhabilall Sharma, M. D., was born in Geylegphug, in southern Bhutan. After finishing high school, he studied medicine in Kanpur, India. Upon his graduation, he returned to Bhutan and served as a District Medical Officer for the Government of Bhutan. In 1992, he became a refugee along with his family. Once in the refugee camps in Nepal, Dr. Sharma worked for 8 years with Save the Children, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Nepal. He moved to the United States in 2003. In 2011 he completed his psychiatry residency at Hennepin-Regions Psychiatry Training Program in Minnesota. Dr. Sharma is currently an American Board Certified psychiatrist working at HealthPartners, and spends part of his clinical time at HealthPartners Center for International Health. Dr. Sharma has recently been appointed by the University of Minnesota Global Health Program as the Nepal site coordinator for Global Health Faculty. In his leisure time he enjoys volunteering with the growing Bhutanese American Community in Minnesota.
Elina Shakya, M. D., received her medical training (M. B. B. S.) at the Nepal Medical College. She specializes in internal medicine and practices at Summa St. Thomas Primary Care. Dr. Shakya has hospital affiliations at Summa – Barberton Citizens Hospital, Summa – Wadsworth – Rittman Hospital, Summa – St. Thomas Hospital, Summa – Akron City Hospital, and the North Coast Crystal Clinic. Dr. Shakya speaks fluent Nepali and English.
Stephanie Goeden, BSW MSW, is a licensed social worker and has been in the social service field for more than 15 years. She was with the International Institute of Akron from 2008 through 2011 and has since been focused on mental health. She is currently with Coleman Behavioral Health as an outpatient therapist and refugee liaison, and is working towards certificates in trauma and grief counseling.
Terry Kuhn, Ph. D., was serving as Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies and Professor of Music when he retired from Kent State University in July of 2003.
In recognition of his volunteer work with Bhutanese refugees in the greater Akron area, he was awarded honorary membership in the Bhutanese Community Association of Akron. Dr. Kuhn serves as Web master for www.bcakron.org and www.woveninexile.com
Liz Kuhn, his wife, has worked with Bhutanese weavers since 2010. This effort can be seen at www.woveninexile.com
In addition to the four headliner speakers pictured above, mention should be made of some of the individuals who helped make this event a success. First of all, those who contributed time, effort, and financial support which includes the high school and college student volunteers, the International Institute of Akron, the Bhutanese Community Association of Akron, the dancers, and the MCs Sudan Rai and Bhola Siwakoti. Bishnu Sunar, Mary Raitano, Goran Debelnogich, Kishor Siwakoti, Bishnu Subba, Amber Subba, Kiran Gurung, Indra Lamichhane, Tika Acharya, Parangkus Subedi, Tim Kelly, Mahesh Thulung, Pushpa Gajmer, Vikash Gahmer, Manoj Dhakal, Krishna Dhakal, Arjun Rasally, Kiran Gajmer, Kishor Siwakoti, Lokesh Gurung, Kamal Rai, Govinda Phuyel, and “The Accents” from Pittsburgh all made speechs, songs, or dances during the program.
It is difficult to predict who will commit suicide. So if anyone you know talks about wanting to die, having no reason to live, or being a burden on others — LISTEN TO THEM. Get them to talk. Tell them you care about them. Doing these simple things can help prevent any more suicides in the Bhutanese diaspora.
Here is a suicide prevention number to call for help: 1-800-273-8255
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