uMTTR Dance strives to prevent suicide amongst teens

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 17 percent of students in grades 9 through 12 seriously considered committing suicide in 2013. This is clearly a serious, not to mention tragic, problem. On December 23, teens from all over Montgomery County can come together at uDance UMTTR to raise awareness for this issue.

uDance UMTTR, hosted at the Fillmore Silver Spring, is a dance where “teens can come out with their friends and have fun and party for a great cause – suicide awareness,” said junior Elan Arnowitz (a.k.a. DJ Arno), who came up with the idea for the dance. UMTTR, the organization hosting the dance was created in response to the 2013 suicide of a Winston Churchill High School sophomore, according to its website (UMTTR.org).

It goes without saying that this will not be a normal dance. Most importantly, “All funds and money raised will go towards preventing student suicide and a mental health awareness program,” stated Arnowitz. Furthermore, he continued, “while most clubs are venues only offering over-18 or over-21 events, our event is for teens under 21, so it really promotes a great environment.”

One student who is looking forward to the event is Richard Montgomery junior Amit Koppel.  “I’m really excited for the UMTTR dance coming up,” said Koppel. “Not only is it going to be fun as a dance, but all the money is going towards a great cause which I really support.”

Arnowitz, who goes to Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Montgomery County, will DJ the dance. As a professional DJ, he has “seen firsthand the effect music has on uniting people, so that’s…a reason behind why I approached the head [of UMTTR] and brought her this idea of having a dance for this great cause, and it’s just really exciting to see this article come to fruition.” Not only is the dance enjoyable, but it provides the satisfaction one feels when they have helped someone.

The organization behind uDance UMTTR, UMTTR, is also rapidly expanding. Declared Arnowitz, “in addition to expanding throughout the high schools in Montgomery County, we’re also entering different colleges around the country.” Their official mission is to lead “a movement to change the story from bullying, depression and suicide to a compassionate culture where everyone matters,” as printed on their website. It is hardly surprising that an organization with such an important purpose is garnering attention.

Students can join UMTTR by emailing its founder, Sue Rosenstock (sue@umttr.org), or calling her. When she gets calls from people asking if they can join, according to Arnowitz, she says, “you’re already a part of UMTTR, as long as you promote the idea that every person matters, you matter, you’re already a part.” That philosophy is important in a society where teens feel increased pressure to outdo each other and live up to expectations.

The reason Arnowitz joined, he declared, was because “a close friend of mine lost his life to suicide…so I wanna do everything I can to prevent that and educate about mental health, and I feel like the organization UMTTR is a great way to do that.” This type of story is unfortunately not uncommon, and as supported by the statistic above, “It’s too frequent and has to be stopped,” said Arnowitz.

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