Earlier this month, hundreds of colorful pinwheels decorated the EUC lawn – 1,100 to be exact.* It’s a number symbolizing the 1,100 college students lost to suicide each year in the U.S., according to Active Minds, a national nonprofit organization that supports mental health awareness and education for students.
The display is part of an effort by UNC Greensboro’s Department of Recreation and Wellness to raise awareness around mental health, and in observance of National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.
Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among college students, and the Jed Foundation – an organization working to protect emotional health and prevent suicide in teens and young adults – actually estimates that the number of colleges students who take their own lives each year now falls somewhere between 1,100 and 1,400.
RecWell kicked off the month on Sept. 5 with the pinwheel display and LGBTQ Speed Friending, and more events are scheduled throughout the month.
“The National Alliance on Mental Illness says that one in five children between the ages of 13 and 18 have, or will have a serious mental illness,” said Jamie Stephens, RecWell’s coordinator for outreach and peer education. “There are undoubtedly people in our lives who are suffering in silence. It’s important that we work to create a culture where anyone and everyone feels comfortable reaching out for the help they need.”
Stephens said more information, including warning signs and statistics, can be found here. She also encouraged students to “Ask, Listen and Refer” – to take 20 minutes and learn how to help a friend or fellow student who may be having thoughts of suicide by visiting this website.
Below is a list of the mental health awareness events scheduled for the month:
- Tuesday, Sept. 11, 7 p.m., EUC Auditorium: “Black Mental Health Matters” – An Evening with Phillip Roundtree (giving a face and voice to living with depression and anxiety)
- Tuesday, Sept. 18, 8 p.m., EUC Lawn: Light the Night Vigil (light a candle to show support for suicide prevention, remember a loved one and other survivors)
- Tuesday, Sept. 18 and Monday, Sept. 24, 5 p.m., EUC Lawn: Yoga Class on the Grass (bring a towel or yoga mat and water bottle – no experience necessary!)
- Wednesday, Sept. 19, 7 p.m., UNCG Auditorium: Community Film Screening of “Suicide: The Ripple Effect”
- Tuesday, Sept. 25, 12 p.m. at the Fountain: Pause for Paws – come out and make a new four-legged friend! Activities will include aromatherapy from Spartan Scents, deep breathing and bubbles, and of course, puppies!
- Wednesday, Sept. 26, 7 p.m., EUC Maple: Arty Party – Painting a Path to Eating Disorder Recovery (an evening of food, music, and guided painting to learn how to help a friend who struggles with an eating disorder – registration required through Spartan Connect.)
*Due to the potential effects of Hurricane Florence, the pinwheels have been removed.
By Elizabeth L. Harrison, University Communications
Photography by Jiyoung Park, University Communications