NEWARK, N.J. (PIX11) – Stories of fiction we see on stage or screen may bring us to tears, but no story can rip your heart out like the real thing.

Stage Rage is a program where St. Benedict’s Prep students act out their traumatic experiences on stage.

“It really brings you back to what happened,” said Liam Concha, who was in the darkest place imaginable: he tried to take his own life amid turmoil in his home.

This is his second year of Stage Rage, and he’s seen his life improve since being part of the project.

“I feel a lot more relieved, and I feel like I don’t have to carry this burden or deal with what I’m going through alone,” said Concha. 

“Courageous, vulnerable, willing, loving,” said Dr. Ivan LaMourt, director of counseling services at St. Benedict’s. “These kids are absolutely incredible in their ability to allow someone to see their pain and to use their pain to help them.”

Stage Rage has been part of the St. Benedict’s community for about eight years, but this is the first time cameras have been allowed inside.

“I think it’s the most important thing I get to do here,” said Patricia Flynn, the school’s theatre director. 

“I don’t know what we would do if we didn’t have it,” said school Headmaster Rev. Edwin Leahy. “We didn’t have it at one point. I remember what that was like; I don’t want to go back to that.”

“At first, I didn’t want to do it, I was scared to,” said Pedro Cena, a senior bound for Boston College in the fall.

“I feel like [the audience] are going to laugh or talk, or they won’t care,” said Cena, “but I was proven wrong. I saw a few sad faces; I saw a few crying. I didn’t think people would care.”

But people do care, and if you’re struggling with trauma, you don’t need to put on an act. Instead, Cena said you can talk to someone.

“There’s always going to be people backing you up,” said Cena. “The way you are – the place you are in now, you can change that. You decide your own future.”