People might usually overlook National Mental Health Awareness Week, but after the recent tragic news about college students committing suicide across the country, St. Thomas students are raising awareness by holding an event on campus.
“Ending the Silence” is a suicide awareness show sponsored by Active Minds and the St. Thomas Gospel Choir. The event’s goal is to spread knowledge about the truth of suicide, said junior Kiana Williams.
“Suicide is something that’s not really talked about, but so many people are affected by it, and so many people’s life have really been dramatically changed because of it,” Williams said. “We really want to give a voice to those who feel like they can’t have one, and have people be aware of how this is affecting lives.”
For sophomore Albert Conteh, the loss of a high school friend makes the event even more special.
“I feel like this show is the best way for me to help others, and to make sure what happened to Cody won’t happen to someone else,” he said. “The show’s for him, in some way, dedicated to him.”
The event will include poetry readings, individual dancers, singing, speakers and guests from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. But Active Minds executive board member Kathryn Lundquist said this event isn’t all fun and games.
“It’s not like you can run around campus and say, ‘Come on this is going to be so great,’ ‘cause it is going to be great, but you have to be in a certain mindset and be ready to take it very seriously,” Lundquist said. “It might be a little harder to get people excited about it, but we just want to make it known that it’s OK to be a part of something that may not be super peppy and fun, but something that we all should acknowledge and pay attention to.”
Conteh said he hopes students walk away with a message of hope.
“For the kids who lost someone because of suicide, there’s a time when you feel really hurt and you feel really down – it does get tough. But you will make it, though. You will learn to grow from it,” he said.
Lundquist said she admires the support members of the St. Thomas community have for each other.
“The scariest thing for me is knowing that people think there is nowhere they can go, and there’s no one to turn to,” she said. “That’s simply not the case, and there are so many people on this campus [who] care and [who] are here for them.”
“Ending the Silence” is a free event and will take place at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 15, in the Brady Educational Center auditorium.
Zach Pagano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.