The VWU community honored World Suicide Prevention Day with a suicide awareness walk and memory chalk experience, hosted by the Student Government Association on Sept. 10.
It was led by junior Joey Mueller, SGA president, who was in charge of the operation and of spreading awareness to the cause. The event included a speech from Associate Vice President for Campus Life and Operational Management Jason Seward and suicide awareness ribbons that were given out to all participants at the event. There was also a walk around campus and a chalk writing experience of inspiring messages on the sidewalk next to the Hofheimer Library.
“We really focused on getting volunteers to get the tabling event, so you could sign the banner,” Mueller said. “The big banner that students signed will be displayed on the wall in Batten for all students to see.” The banner serves as a gracious reminder that this community finds importance in every Marlin and that every Marlin matters.
This event was a collaboration between Student Government Association, Office of Student Activities and Student Health as well as Vice President for Campus Life and Operational Management Keith Moore and his Assistant VP Jason Seward.
Mueller had the goal of reaching the entire student body. “I [wanted] to see 1,600 kids out there…” Mueller said. “I just want[ed] it to be noticeable, so when we’re walking in front of Allen Village, for example, I want[ed] someone to be sitting there and look outside and go ‘what the hell is happening?’ Maybe look at his calendar and remember the date and then follow and join us.”
He was inspired to develop this event as he saw it was something our community needed. “The fact that we’re having this event really makes a difference because it shows that faculty and administration are invested in our mental health and our well being,” Mueller said.
The event’s intention was to showcase the importance of you and the people around you. Mueller seemed eager to collaborate with the administration about the biggest battle a Marlin may fight. His effort to pull administration and students to the cause did not go unnoticed.
Seward spoke at the introduction of the suicide prevention walk. His insightful speech was heard through the Batten Student Center with many student and faculty members in attendance to listen. “Who in here has personally been affected by someone you know who has committed suicide?” In response to this question, the entire crowd of approximately 50 individuals raised their hands. After viewing this, Seward went on to explain that “sucide will always have an impact on the others around you, even if you don’t think you matter, you do.”
Eventually, the awareness walk concluded with students writing encouraging messages in chalk on the sidewalk in front of the Hofheimer Library. The chalk writing was overlaid with peaceful music which the participants put as “being calming and uniting with one another.” Examples of the messages include “Healing takes time,” “We love you unconditionally,” “You Matter” and “I will always care.” These messages will remain on the pavement to encourage others who walk by the library.
April Christman, Director of Student Health, closed out the event with kind words and offering words of encouragement to those who needed it. On behalf of the offices of Student Health and Counseling, Christman offered assistance and comfort to anyone who may have needed to talk. She announced, “If at any point you guys want to talk about anything, I’ll be right here.”
Please reach out to Counseling Services in Batten 211 which is open Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. as well as email Director of Counseling Services Bill Brown firstname.lastname@example.org or April Christman email@example.com. For immediate assistance, do not hesitate to call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255.
By Joshua Heller