The Clarion Call report
According to The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, over 44,000 people commit suicide each year, or 123 deaths a day. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. Celebrity deaths by apparent suicide, such as Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, have brought a national spotlight on the issue of suicide in 2018. In the past two decades, half the states in the U.S. have seen a 30 percent increase in suicide deaths.
September is recognized every year as Suicide Prevention Month, a time designed to share stories and resources to reach and educate people on prevention strategies. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ website, “We use this month to reach out to those affected by suicide, raise awareness and connect individuals with suicidal ideation to treatment services.”
Suicide awareness strategies aren’t just a national effort. Groups and clubs at Clarion University are also taking on the task.
“The importance of Suicide Prevention Month is so simple: everyone’s life is important. Everyone can make a difference in anyone’s life if they spread a little love. Spreading light on this issue is all we want,” Psychology Club President Meghan Carpenter and Outreach Chair Daniel Baumcratz said of the importance of Suicide Prevention Month.
Sept. 9-15 also serves as Suicide Prevention Week. This week-long campaign was started to inform others about warning signs of suicide and engage the general public in topics that surround mental health.
During this week on Clarion University campus, the apple sculpture in the lawn of the Science and Technology Center was painted to bring awareness to suicide prevention. The sculpture was painted by the members of the Psychology Club. The painting features “Suicide Awareness” painted on one side, colored ribbons, the suicide prevention number and a semicolon. The semicolon represents the campaign started by the Semicolon Project, which symbolizes that someone’s story doesn’t have to end.
“We do not think suicide is talked about enough. We believe it needs to be discussed more and understood. Everyone’s life has been touched by suicide in some way. We felt, as the officers of the Psychology Club, it was our duty to bring awareness to this cause that is often not talked about enough and kept in the shadows,” Carpenter and Baumcratz said.
In painting the apple, Carpenter and Baumcratz mentioned that the club did not have a complete plan when they went to paint it. They said they wanted to keep the message simple but still have power.
During the week of Sept. 24, The Leadership Institute is holding a suicide awareness week, each day having a different theme and event. These days are: “Mental Health Monday,” “Talk About it Tuesday,” “Walk it out Wednesday,” “Think About it Thursday” and “Freedom Friday.” More information about location and times can be found on the flyers around campus.
Suicide Prevention Month is in place to spread awareness and start conversations on the subject. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is (800) 273-8255, or those struggling can text “HOPELINE” to 741741.