Maritime students disco for suicide-prevention non-profit

Disco for Life

Twenty cadet-students from SUNY Maritime College helped make a success of a charity event to help people who struggle with severe depression or suicidal thoughts, and those who care for them.

The Life is Priceless Foundation hosted its sixth annual gala, this year named Disco for Life, and Maritime cadet-students were there to staff the check-in table and coat-check, assist guests, and provide other logistical support at the gala.

Of the 20 students who volunteered at Disco for Life, all but the three freshmen had previously assisted with the event.

“This is my fourth year going. I really enjoy it. It’s a cause that’s near and dear to my heart,” said Logan Memoli, senior Marine Operations major from Florida. “I think it speaks volumes of these guys and girls who took the time to volunteer. A lot of them use service as their study break, saying this is going to be my night out or my night off.”

This year’s gala was organized to benefit members of the LGBTQ community, who used disco as an escape from discrimination and an affirmation of themselves and their culture in the 1970s. Today, LGBTQ youth are five times more likely to attempt suicide.

“I’ve struggled with mental illness and members of my family and friends have struggled with it. I’ve lost friends to suicide,” Memoli said. “In college, students are in a high-stress environment and may be away from home for the first time. They don’t have the support network they had at home and I feel like there’s still a stigma about talking about mental health.

“Life is Priceless’ big thing is awareness and prevention and doing away with the stigma behind mental illness.”

Maritime students have been volunteering with the foundation for four years. They started working with the foundation at the suggestion of another a Maritime graduate, Scott Adler ’07, who has supported the organization since it was founded in 2011. Life is Priceless was founded by Tim Price after his brother David committed suicide.

At the time, Adler reached out to Maritime students to recruit about 30 volunteers for the foundation gala. As the event has grown, the group has been hiring more staff but still uses the volunteers, Memoli said.

For more information about the Life is Priceless Foundation, visit www.lipf.org.