NAMI hosts suicide prevention walk

April 28, 2016


Staff Reporter | djn005@latech.edu



Attendees release balloons in honor of people lost to suicide. Photo by Ashley Kober

Attendees release balloons in honor of people lost to suicide. Photo by Ashley Kober

The National Alliance on Mental Illness hosted two events last week around the Lady of the Mist in order to raise awareness of suicides committed by those with mental illness. A candlelight vigil was held the evening of Thursday, April 23 while a walk was held the following Saturday morning.



“With these events and NAMI in general, we address everything on the mental illness spectrum, from depression to PTSD to autism,” said Jene Flowers, vice president of NAMI, “It’s pretty much our motto at this point, we’re stomping out the stigma surrounding mental illness.”



Flowers said there are several misconceptions held by the general public which lend to this stigma. She said such misconceptions make life even harder to live for those who suffer from mental illness.



“It’s extremely negative,” Flowers said, “When people hear the term ‘mental illness’ they kind of draw back in certain ways as far as what they believe mentally ill people are capable of or what it defines them as.”



The officers of NAMI took turns giving speeches, telling stories, and reading poetry at the vigil before ceding the mic to anyone else who wanted to speak. As the sun set, attendees gathered near the lady of the mist, lit their candles and shared in a moment of silence.



Morgan Nall, a sophomore biology major and representative officer of PRISM, took the open mic before the walk Saturday morning and told the crowd her personal story of mental illness.

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A candlelight vigil was held and a moment of silence observed. Photo by Ashley Kober


“I had no one to talk to and started to self-harm at 10 years old,” Nall said, “I got to such a point in my depression that I had attempted suicide five times by the time I was eleven.”



Nall said it took several hospitalizations and four more suicide attempts for her to realize her situation was out of control. She said her moment of clarity came when her friend Joseph committed suicide.



“I don’t know what I would do without groups like PRISM and NAMI,” Nall said. “The people in these organizations provide me with support and give me hope that, excuse me because I know you have heard this so much before, everything can be better.”


Christopher Forrester, a junior chemistry major and public relations officer for NAMI, said he noticed a pleasant difference  between the two events while he was making plans for them.



“I don’t think it was intentional, but I think we could definitely put emphasis on the contrast between the two events in the future,” Forester said, “The vigil is more solemn, peaceful, and more expressive while the walk is more active and kind of like we’re reaching out.”



After the walk, attendees had the opportunity to write the name of someone lost to suicide on a balloon. They then walked over to the seal and released them in unison.



“It’s a symbolic way to show respect to them and release the emotional turmoil that might be pent up inside”, Forester said, “It’s a cathartic sort of deal where you just write a name and let your pain float away.”


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