By Megan Schuller
Last week Roosevelt took part in spreading awareness around campus for National Suicide Prevention Week. The Center for Student Involvement placed a “banner of hope” between the Wabash and Auditorium buildings where students could write messages of hope. The banner, which read, “Place your hand over your heart. You feel it? It’s called purpose. You’re here for a reason. Don’t give up” quickly became filled up with positive words of encouragement from students.
Senior and SPEED programmer Maya Tatum-Lattimore, was inspired to make the banner of hope after attending a program called ‘A Night of Hope’ put on by Brandon Rohlwing last year. She wanted to spread awareness of mental health and get students talking about it.
“I was happy that people wrote really nice things about their experiences, and things that inspired them. It’s really just a blank canvas that you can write whatever makes you happy. It was nice to see everyone engaging in it.” Tatum-Lattimore said. “We see a lot of the aftermath of suicide, but we don’t talk enough about suicide prevention as much as we should.”
Rohlwing, a senior integrated market communications major, has been actively volunteering for different suicide awareness organizations and is an ambassador to defeat stigma that surrounds suicide and mental health.
“Suicide has become close to my heart and become my passion because it has affected me at several parts of my life. Both with my own personal struggles in high school with coming to terms with my sexuality and when I lost my sister to suicide,” Rohlwing said. “There’s a lot of power in everyone’s story.”
Rohlwing is on the planning committee for the largest suicide event in the country being held in Grant Park on Sept. 26. The Out of The Darkness Walk put together by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is a 3.5 mile long walk and event to raise awareness and help raise money for research.
“We have just over 27,000 people registered and we’ve already raised over $300,000. There’s a sense of community you feel when you’re there that’s really important to people that have struggled with mental health or affected by suicide,” Rohlwing said. “It’s been cool to be a part of the planning process and see it come into fruition.”
Kusha Murarka, Assistant Director of the Counseling Center, noted that suicide is the second leading cause of death among individuals in the age of 18 to 24 years old. Suicide and depression is common among college students.
“Untreated depression can lead to thoughts of suicide and potential intent to harm oneself.” Murarka said. “When students feel overwhelmed, they may feel anxious or down, and that may be the starting symptoms of depression. If left untreated or without a good support system, it can spiral out of control.”
According to Murarka depressed moods, persistent sadness of two weeks or more, odd sleeping patterns, not interacting or attending class, abusing drugs to cope, and thoughts of suicide are all signs that someone should receive help.