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UM Counseling Center Plans Suicide Prevention Vigil for October

By Gentry Barton
Hottytoddy.com intern

The University Counseling Center is hosting its second candlelight vigil for suicide awareness Oct. 10 at 6:30 p.m. in the Circle, the center of the University of Mississippi’s campus.

Event coordinators said they hope to raise awareness of suicide prevention and end the stigma attached to mental health and suicide.

During the ceremony, the university community will come together and support one another while discussing ways to aid in the prevention of suicide. Photo from the Air Force Medical Service website.

This event is a time for the Oxford and University communities to come together to support and educate one another, as well as remember those lost to suicide.

Suicide is a leading cause of death among college and university students in the United States, according to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center. 

More than 50% of college students have had suicidal thoughts at some point, according to the study performed by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, and most students do not tell anyone about it or seek professional help.

“One completed suicide is one too many suicides,” said Rachel McClain, a graduate assistant for Outreach at the University Counseling Center. “This event will reduce the stigma of suicide, educate people on the signs and symptoms of risk and will work to teach people how to help those struggling with suicidal thoughts.”

Leigh Jones, a member of the Lafayette-Oxford-University community, is the vigil’s guest speaker and will share with attendees her life experiences regarding suicide. 

A memory board will be set up to allow attendees to write letters or place photos of loved ones who have died by suicide. As the sun begins to set, candles will be passed out and a moment of silence held for those who have been lost to suicide. Members from the counseling services team will be on hand to support those who need it.

“Hopefully (the event) will shine a light on mental health and end the stigma surrounding it,” said Helena March, a University of Mississippi student who plans to attend the event.

The University Counseling Center hopes to bring attention to suicide prevention throughout the weeks surrounding the event. The Center created “You Are Important” boards and placed them around the campus. The boards are located in many buildings across campus and encourage students, faculty and staff to leave a message of hope or encouragement for those struggling on campus.

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