Active Minds works to promote suicide awareness
Jeniece Roman – General Assignment Reporter
Active Minds is seeking to place the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number on the back of the student identification cards of Southern Connecticut State University.
“I think it would be a really great, proactive move for Southern to make, to help save lives and it would also be a great example for other universities to do the same,” said Alyssa Korzon, president of Active Minds.
According to Korzon, the proposal stated that all new HootLoot cards would be printed with the national suicide prevention lifeline number and all existing cards would have the number on a sticker, in order to avoid the cost of reprinting.
“Southern has a lot of amazing resources like the Wellness Center and Counseling Services and it’s a good place for students with mental health issues to seek help,” said Korzon. “But the one thing that would make it better and safer, and a really proactive way to do that would be to add the suicide prevention lifeline number.”
Megan Kelly, an Active Minds member, has struggled with anxiety and has family with depression and bipolar disorder. She said she joined Active Minds because she wanted to work against the stigma people have of mental health. Kelly said students could use the number to call for themselves or a friend.
“It’s just something small that I think can maybe save a life,” said Kelly. “You use it to pay with money, open doors, why not save a life.”
Denise Zack, advisor of Active Minds said the initiative has come completely from the students.
“They’re really passionate about changing the conversation about mental illness on college campuses. They’re incredibly passionate about increasing access to resources,” said Zack.
Korzon said the university card office approved the mock up of the number on the HootLoot card but the Office of Student Affairs then denied the proposal.
“I think our students’ voices need to be heard, I think that our students’ voices are important, and they need to advocate for what they believe in and what they believe will make a change on our campus,” said Zack.
Vice President of Student Affairs Tracey Tyree said the former director of Financial Business Applications at the university card office initially turned down the proposal. She said the idea brought forward by Active Minds opened an opportunity for discussion. Tyree said the question came up of what would elevate a suicide hotline over many other emergency response kinds of information or numbers that might be of equal relevance for students.
“While I understand that they don’t want a million numbers to fill it up, I think that the suicide prevention lifeline is like the most important because it’s the only one that’s literally life or death,” said Korzon.
If a suicide prevention hotline was to be considered, Tyree said that so would a rape crisis line, university police, and other emergency lines for the university.
“If we were going to pursue something on the back of it, that the idea of just putting a suicide hotline was a bit of a narrow scope in terms of all of health and safety of our students,” said Tyree.
Korzon said Active minds is collecting signatures for a petition that will be presented to SCSU President Joe Bertolino and several other administrator at Southern.
“Our events have made a lot of impact on campus so this is like our next step to really make a difference,” said Korzon. “In suicide, seconds count.”
Photo Credit: Jeniece Roman – General Assignment Reporter