One thousand, one hundred yellow flags were arranged to display “1,100,” on April 16 in an effort to represent the roughly 1,100 college students that commit suicide each year. The Psychology Club organized the display with the help of Pathways. They drew inspiration from the organization Active Minds, which regularly displays 1,100 backpacks on college campuses across the nation in an effort to “send the silence packing,” as their website states.
Senior Keith Morris-Schaffer, president of Psychology Club, said this was the club’s first suicide awareness initiative.
“This is [Psychology Club] just breaching into the territory, but it was really successful. We had a lot of volunteers, and we think we’ll probably extend it to two days. We also had a candlelight vigil at night,” Morris-Schaffer said.
Psychology Club decided to host a suicide awareness event because they found a lack of campus events that drew attention to the issue. Because this event went so well, they plan on expanding their initiative next year to include workshops and fundraising.
“We plan on doing it again and making it a fundraiser for Active Minds. We don’t know if they’ll be able to come... but we’ll be doing the same event, because we had a lot of interest. So we spread awareness effectively, but by fundraising next year we can hopefully broaden the scope,” Morris-Schaffer said.
The event had roughly 30 volunteers, from both Psychology Club and Pathways. This helped students realize that the campus does have resources for support, such as Pathways. Next year, Psychology Club wants to extend the awareness initiative.
“We’re hoping to maybe get [Residence Life] involved, so that they could hold workshops of some kind, and that would really help towards making it an awareness week initiative instead of just a couple of days,” he said.
Psychology Club is not the only organization on campus that has suicide awareness in its scope, however. Sisters Making a Change will be hosting an “Out of the Darkness” walk, sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
The walk will take place on Sunday April 27, with registration beginning at 11 a.m. and the walk starting at noon. Tim Hortons made donations and Subway is expected to donate as well, however, their participation is tentative.
Co-Service Chair for SMAC sophomore Jane Skinner said that fundraising is successfully underway, and the organization expects to meet its goal of $1,000, having roughly $660 already raised. They expect roughly 100 attendees.
There is no registration fee for the event. While that is a relief to some, it does hurt the fundraising initiative.
“Our whole walk is through AFSP, and they don’t charge a registration fee so we really can’t impose one, and that hurts our fundraising,” Skinner said.
Ultimately, the campus is seeing more attention given to the cause of suicide awareness and prevention, and that attention will likely grow in coming years.