Young actors are being sought for a faith-based play focusing on suicide prevention. “Worth It” will be presented by Vet to Vet Tennessee on Nov. 10 in Knoxville.

Auditions are set from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 13, at Fourth Presbyterian Church, the home of Carpetbag Theatre. The church is located at 1323 N. Broadway, Knoxville.

Actors who can portray characters age 15 to 19 are asked to bring a recent photo and prepare a song no more than 90 seconds in length. Audition lines will be provided.

The play focuses on a young war veteran and two high school students struggling with suicidal ideations. The topic is dealt with using both drama and comedy.

“There are times when you’ll laugh and times when you’ll cry, just like in real life,” says Tonya Stoutt-Brown, the play’s author and an East Tennessee native. “Suicide is a real-life issue for students and young adults, and we want to use this play to help them understand that life is always worth living.”

Vet to Vet Tennessee is a non profit organization that provides peer support for Veterans recovering from mental health issues and substance abuse, offering strategies and coping skills for living a healthy lifestyle. Suicide prevention is a key factor in carrying out that mission.

According to the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network, suicide rates among teenagers and young adults have reached a record high, nationally. Vet 2 Vet Tennessee president Ed Junod says as of 2017 suicide is the second-leading cause of death for ages 10 to 19 in Tennessee.

“In any given year, more teenagers and young adults die by suicide than from cancer and heart disease combined, not to mention the more high profile causes of death such as birth defects, HIV infection and meningitis,” Junod says. “In Tennessee, there were 75 deaths by suicide among people aged 10 to 19 recorded in 2017. Even though suicide rates are lower for this age group than others, even one young person lost to suicide is too many.”

A recent report from the American Medical Association revealed suicide rates in the age range of older teens and young adults are just as sobering. In 2017, the most recent year for which data is available, suicide claimed the lives of 5,016 males and 1,225 females between the ages of 15 and 24 in the United States.

In addition to being a tragic loss under any circumstances, these suicide rates deeply affect the military’s youngest members and young people who will be the future of the nation’s armed forces. Across all age groups, 20 veterans commit suicide every day.

For more information, visit https://suicideprevention.tnvhc.org or call 865-336-2624.

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