Suicide prevention begins with opening dialogue

On Oct. 11, a  UNI student group hosted a suicide awareness event sponsored by Active Minds -to honor those who die every year as a result of suicide. They scattered 1,100 backpacks, some holding the stories of those lost to suicide.

Each backpack represented a student, a story, a suicide. Every year, 1,100 students kill themselves.

This event put their stories front-and-center, allowing the visitors to walk around and read the testimonies of the friends and relatives of the dead. Some were written by a close childhood friend, others by a sibling and others by a parent. All were powerful.What this event taught is that there is no one kind of person who commits suicide. There is no way to truly predict it. Many of the displayed stories showed people who were cheerful and full of life. They were involved in their families, schools and communities.

The family and friends rarely suspected anything, and it’s not a result of lack of attentiveness. They describe seeing their loved ones just days before their deaths and not suspecting anything. Most of the time, if people present apparent happiness, even their closest friends won’t notice that something is wrong.This is why we must talk about suicide and mental health. We owe it to those already dead and those currently suffering in silence to have this conversation, and to create an environment in which it is easier to reach out if for those who need help.There should be no shame in not feeling OK, or in needing help, and any time there is, something is wrong. But to #StoptheStigma, we first have to talk about it.

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