And the Winners Are….

Here are the top three winners in the 2nd Annual Ithaca Cupcake Baking Contest organized by The Sophie Fund in the Commons on Saturday! (More winners to be posted soon!)

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Tamarynde Cacciotti won the Grand Prize

 

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Tamarynde Cacciotti’s Grand Prize winning entry: a cream puff cupcake with Earl Grey pastry filling and mocha buttercream frosting.

 

1st Prize

$250 gift certificate for Greenstar Natural Foods Market

Tamarynde Cacciotti

2nd prize

Ali Strongwater’s 2nd Prize winning entry: a pumpkin and crystalized ginger cupcake, with whipped brown sugar icing, and open star piped frosting topped with ginger slice and sugar ghost holding candy corn

2nd Prize

La Tourelle Hotel Bistro and Spa gift certificate (one night stay, breakfast, massage)

Ali Strongwater

3rd prize

Alexander Quilty’s 3rd prize winning entry: a chocolate raspberry-filled cupcake with a raspberry buttercream frosting

3rd Prize

$100 gift certificate for Madeline’s Restaurant

Alexander Quilty

What a Weekend in Ithaca

“One of the best places on earth.” —Sam Harris, vocalist of Ithaca’s own X Ambassadors rock band.

Hard to argue that sentiment after another amazing weekend in Ithaca, which saw the successful debut of the Cayuga Sound Festival and the 11th edition of the Porchfest music extravaganza.

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Harris and the Billboard-nominated XA crew (“Renegades,” “Unsteady”) headlined 13 musical acts at Stewart Park-centered Cayuga Sound on Saturday, and no fewer than 180 performers took part in Fall Creek/Northside’s Porchfest on Sunday.

Along with Cayuga Sound producer Dan Smalls of DSP Shows, XA passed up their concert fees so that maximum proceeds could be channeled to Ithaca nonprofits including organizations supporting young people—an act of philanthropy hailed by Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick.

Harris’s philanthropy is especially heartfelt because he and his brother and bandmate Casey Harris spent childhood summers at day camp in Stewart Park and he later served as a counselor there.

“I’ll start crying if I think about it too hard,” he told the Ithaca Journal. “It’s so cool that we’re able to give back to GIAC and Ithaca Youth Bureau and CSMA and Vitamin L—groups in Ithaca that we benefited from as kids.”

Smalls wrote on Facebook afterwards: “Yesterday was amazing. The best thing I have ever done in 28 years in the music biz.”

Ithaca Voice has a wonderful photo galleries of Cayuga Sound and Porchfest.

Jim Catalano had a great preview piece in the Ithaca Journal on Cayuga Sound, including the interview with Sam Harris.

Billboard wrote about the hometown boy and the plans for Cayuga Sound last April.

13 Reasons Why: Warning Label

The new Netflix series 13 Reasons Why is generating alarm among many mental health professionals and suicide prevention experts, who are concerned about the risks of glamorizing suicide and the possibility of contagion.

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Netflix kicked up a controversy with the series released on March 31 about a high school junior named Hannah who takes her own life. The series received a 91 percent critics approval rating and an 88 percent audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics praised the cast’s performances and the “authentic,” “sensitive,” and “hard hitting” portrayal of teenager angst.

However, 13 Reasons Why needs a warning label. The National Association of School Psychologists cautions that the series should not be viewed by vulnerable young people who experience any degree of suicidal ideation. NASP warns:

“Its powerful storytelling may lead impressionable viewers to romanticize the choices made by the characters and/or develop revenge fantasies. They may easily identify with the experiences portrayed and recognize both the intentional and unintentional effects on the central character. Unfortunately, adult characters in the show, including the second school counselor who inadequately addresses Hannah’s pleas for help, do not inspire a sense of trust or ability to help.”

NASP has problems with the accuracy of how mental illness and suicide are portrayed in the series. For example, it is concerned that the series does not emphasize that common among most suicide deaths is the presence of treatable mental illnesses. And that suicide is not the simple consequence of stressors or coping challenges, but rather, it is most typically a combined result of treatable mental illnesses and overwhelming or intolerable stressors.

Despite the strong misgivings, some see the widespread publicity around 13 Reason Why as an opportunity at least to spread greater awareness about suicide and suicide prevention. NASP says that the controversy is an “opportunity to better understand young people’s experiences, thoughts, and feelings,” educate parents, teachers, and students alike about suicide risk warning signs, and reinforce the message that suicide is not a solution to problems.

NASP advises that school psychologists and other school-employed mental health professionals can assist stakeholders such as school administrators, parents, and teachers to engage in supportive conversations with students as well as provide resources and offer expertise in preventing harmful behaviors. NASP published “Considerations for Educators,” guidance on 13 Reasons Why. Download it here.

Experts say if you’re thinking about the safest and best way to lead a discussion with teens about 13 Reasons Why and suicide, read the tip sheet co-authored by Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) and the JED Foundation. Click here to download the tip sheet.

Some recommended reading from experts on the subject of suicide contagion:

Preventing Suicide With A “Contagion Of Strength” (National Public Radio February 25, 2015)

The Science Behind Suicide Contagion (New York Times, August 14, 2014)

Teen suicide: Prevention is Contagious, Too (Christian Science Monitor, December 8, 2013)

[If you or someone you know feels the need to speak with a mental health professional, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.]