Students gather to observe World Suicide Prevention Day

Students and faculty gather for the candle lighting on World Suicide Prevention Day. Photo by Jenny Rigney.

Students and faculty gather for the candle lighting on World Suicide Prevention Day. Photo by Jenny Rigney.

On Sept. 10, thousands of people will come together worldwide to recognize World Suicide Prevention Day.

Oklahoma Christian University observed World Suicide Prevention Day on Sept. 8 by raising awareness around campus, encouraging and challenging both students and faculty to talk about suicide prevention.

“This is a day around the world where people have candle lightings in groups, or just individually, letting other people know they want to offer hope, and they want to help in any way they can,” Oklahoma Christian counselor Sheldon Atkins said.

The candlelight vigil took place at the forum at 8:30 p.m. and those in attendance were encouraged to take an online screening.

The World Health Organization estimates that over 800,000 people commit suicide each year. According to a study conducted by Emory University, there are more than 1,000 suicides on college campuses each year, with one in 10 college students planning suicide at one point in their life.

“We want to encourage all students to take the online screening,” Atkins said. “We feel that the sooner people might be aware of their own struggles, they might seek out help before it gets to the point of being suicidal.”

Atkins said he wanted to stress the importance of talking about suicide and letting people know they do not have to suffer alone, that there is hope.

Freshman Payton Montaova said the event was a solemn time for her.

“It hits close to home for me,” freshman Payton Montaova said.

Last year 500 students took the online screening and attendance at Oklahoma Christian’s program increased from 55 students the previous year, to over 500.

“No matter what campus you are on, or where you are in the world, people are struggling and the more awareness, people will understand each others struggles,” senior Benjamin McCoy said. “You can’t fix everything but you can build resilience. When it comes to depression and suicide, it is something that is of the utmost importance.”

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