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EARLY YEARS: New VCT4TEENS production tackles teenage suicide

Three performances will be held at North Cross School’s Fishburn Auditorium February 25 and 26
"Apologies" being performed at North Cross School February 25 and 26
Published: Feb. 16, 2022 at 5:28 AM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) -Suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people between 10 and 24, according to the CDC.

Later this month, Virginia Children’s Theatre will bring awareness about teen suicide in a new stage production called “Apologies.” It’s the latest in the VCT4TEENS series.

15-year-old Asher Love plays the main character, Jennifer, who ends up dying by suicide. We see Jennifer struggling in the final days of her life.

“She loves her mom and really loves to take care of her. But then her mom gets re-married and is like, ‘my mom doesn’t really need me anymore.’ So, she tries to rely on her friends and her friends don’t give her any support at all.. She’s just really lost in the world,” says Love.

That feeling of loss eventually leads Jennifer to do the unthinkable.

Like her character, Love says she’s had similar feelings of hopelessness.

“Almost like three years ago, my dad left our family, so it was just like, everything was falling apart. But I had a lot of great people in my life to like keep me up and running, so that was really helpful and I think that’s one thing Jennifer doesn’t have,” says Love.

Heather Lanza is the director of “Apologies.”

Unlike other tales about teen suicide, like “13 Reasons Why” on Netflix, this story doesn’t offer a clear reason.

“I think one of the challenges from the audience’s perspective is that you don’t get to really understand fully the root causes of her depression and where she’s at with that,” Lanza says.

During the production, Lanza says she worked to make sure the actors stayed in a good mental space, while depicting a tough topic.

“Really make sure that they’re being honest and sensitive to the material while also taking care of ourselves and the company is really important,” says Lanza.

Love credits her strong support system for getting her through her own dark period.

“Apologies” brings to light the need for all of us to watch out for warning signs in our loved ones, and be there for one another.

“Throughout the show, you see Jennifer reaching out to people and nobody is there to support her. And I think I want people to see that nobody should feel like that,” says Love.

“Apologies” will take the stage in the Fishburn Auditorium at North Cross School Friday, February 25, at 7 p.m. and again Saturday, February 26, at 3 and 7 p.m.

There’s no charge for tickets, but donations at the door are welcome.

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