Each year, 1,100 college students take their own lives. On World Suicide Prevention day Wednesday, a yellow flag was planted in the grass along the Spine in honor of each of them.
Student groups, including Mental Health Outreach Peer Educators (M-HOPE), the Dean of Students Office, 20:1, Real Education About College Health (REACH) and volunteers from Hinman College tabled for the day, spreading messages of positivity and offering information for students who might need help.
LeAnna Rice, the mental health outreach coordinator for the University Counseling Center, said that the goal was to spread a little bit of hope.
“I think that the students here struggle a lot with feeling the pressure to do well and be perfect,” Rice said. “Sometimes when you fall a little short you feel down or hopeless about it. It’s important that we have conversations about mental health and well being and know that it’s okay to seek help and talk to other people about it.”
Rice is in charge of M-HOPE, an internship with the focus of educating the campus about mental health, encouraging students to talk about it and seek help if they need it.
She explained that even a small gesture can mean a lot to a person contemplating suicide.
“Asking a simple ‘Are you okay?’ and meaning it can help redirect the course of somebody’s life,” Rice said.
Poster boards were set up on which passers-by could write messages of hope to students that might be considering taking their own lives. Each one was decorated with a large semicolon, accompanied by the slogan “Your Story Is Not Over Yet.”
“It’s really just beautiful to see people reaching out and writing these messages,” said Brendan Keefe, a M-HOPE intern and a junior majoring in human development.
Jazell Johnson, program coordinator and case manager for the Dean of Students office, said that nobody is immune to experiencing a struggle.
“Binghamton students come from different walks of life and different backgrounds,” Johnson explained. “I think it’s really important that, as a campus, we support our students wherever they are and get them connected with as many resources as possible so they can succeed both here and beyond Binghamton.”