Eventually Group Presents Broadway Benefit for Suicide Prevention

By Seth Kinker, skinker@thesuntimesnews.com

The Eventually Group will be hosting a Broadway Benefit for Suicide Prevention Oct. 29, at the Kerrytown Concert House in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Eventually Group is a 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt organization that started out in Chelsea’s Beach Middle School. Originally, it was a small group of students in a Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) group.

DBT is a cognitive behavior treatment developed by Marsha Linehan, a Professor of Psychology and Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Washington. DBT emphasizes individual psychotherapy and group skills training classes to help those involved learn and use new skills and strategies to develop a better perspective on life.

After being developed to treat chronically suicidal individuals diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, research has shown that DBT is effective in treating a wide range of other disorders such as substance dependence, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and eating disorders.

Frederik van Reesema, Director of Eventually Group, was the social worker meeting with the group of kids at Beach using a DBT for adolescents manual as their program model.

“At a point when we were working through it one of the kids was like, ‘I feel like these skills are super useful for us, but there are other kids who haven’t been identified who don’t have access to these skills. Is there a way for us to kind of promote people to start talking about this stuff?’’ said van Reesema.

Around that time, they were beginning to finish up that program and van Reesema was starting to terminate the therapy group.

Members of the group told van Reesema that they wanted to continue to meet and talk about the issues. Their thought process was that they had already learned and practiced the skills; if they were to continue applying them, why not do it with other kids who didn’t have the skills rather than within their own group who had already learned them.

Their goal, like their logo, was to help others understand that things get better.

The logo for Eventually Group, pictured provided by Eventually Group.

“The name of the group came from a drawing one of the members did that had a little flower that was in a quadrant,” said van Reesema on the origin of the group’s name and logo, a flower. “It had a flower that was super droopy, one petal hardly hanging on with the caption, ‘I’m not alright.’ The second square said, ‘But that’s okay,’ and the flower had regained a petal or two. In the bottom left, it had a flower with a few more petals that said, ‘I will be’. Then the last quadrant as a flower that stood up and said ‘Eventually.’”

“The purpose of Eventually Group is to help people feel less alone. I understand how it can feel like you have no one. This group exists to lessen the loneliness teens going through mental health issues feel and talking about it is the first step.” said Eli, 15, a member of Eventually Group.”

As the students transitioned to high school, the group realized it was harder to make it work, with van Reesema primarily still working at Beach. There were also discussions on whether or not it would be appropriate for high schoolers and middle schoolers to be involved in the same group.

In Nov. of 2017, they formally founded Eventually Group.

“What we realized is that it made sense for this group to be continuous,” said van Reesema. “Now, it’s an independent non-profit and basically what the kids wanted to do, they said ‘We want to do more events. Have a bigger impact. Make our voices amplified, how can we do that?’”

van Reesema suggested getting active on social media to bring awareness to their cause. They have held a bake sale, painted the rock, and held an open mic night at the Rumpus Room in downtown Chelsea to raise funds and awareness for the group and its cause.

“It was really awesome to see the community come out and support these kids,” said van Reesema. “It was a pretty beautiful moment to have these kids up on stage with a microphone and singing or playing the flute or speaking to their own experience and how they’ve gained the sense of hope. The difficulties they’ve experienced in their life aren’t something that’s going to be pervasive and never ending but something that’s a temporary chapter, something they can turn the page on, moving forward, and they continue to write their own story and not have it be defined by what’s happened to them’.

“Eventually Group is important because it shows kids that there’s life beyond pain and things can get better,” added Adrienne, 15, a member of Eventually Group. “Eventually Group helps spread awareness about suicide and depression. It gives teenagers a positive outlet to help their peers who suffer with similar mental illnesses as them with weekly check-ins, charity events, and field trips.”

van Reesema helped the kids dream even bigger, actor Colton Ryan posted an Instagram story wearing an Eventually Group T shirt to show solidarity, tagging the groups page and surprising all of the members. van Reesema’s brother, Peter, attended Baldwin Wallace Music Conservatory with Ryan, and all three of them were able to set it up without the kids knowing.

“The kids freaked out, thought it was the coolest thing ever,” said van Reesema. “It was cool to see the look on their faces, knowing they made an impact. We were doing a fundraiser at the time selling t shirts on an online shop. We began selling shirts in Arizona, California, New York. People commenting on our post, ‘Saw this organization on Colton’s Instagram, had to support keep doing your stuff!’ So, the kids wanted to take the next step.’”

This next step has led to the Broadway Benefit for Suicide Prevention. Broadway actor’s Lauren Chapman, a Michigan native, and Zach Adkins, also a Baldwin Wallace alum, were contacted and agreed to be a part of the benefit concert and that doesn’t look to be the end of it. The group has been in contact with other actors about another show, with hopes to turn the benefit concert into a concert series.

“The conversation isn’t just had then it’s over,” said van Reesema. “It’s something that should be continued. The number one most important thing when addressing mental health is having that first conversation because it’s so hard to have sometimes. When you see people who are respected, at the top of their field, people that are young, confident, who know there’s no shame in expressing when you need help. That’s really at the heart and soul of our organization. We’re trying to destigmatize these conversations and show people that its normal to need help sometimes.”

“Everything happens for a reason but it’s your choice whether to get better or not,” said Kyahna, a member of Eventually Group. “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem and it’s your choice whether you can overcome your illness and get better rather than just sit on it and ignore it till it gets to that point. I want everybody to live, wherever they come from. Everybody deserves a chance, and everyone deserves to be happy.

Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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