Candlelight memorial honors those impacted by suicide
Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 20, 2012 00:09
Last night candlelight set a somber mood at the Student Union Mall in an effort to raise suicide awareness on the University of Connecticut campus.
The Area Association of Religious Communities hosted the memorial in honor of those impacted by suicide.
The ceremony began with an introduction by Reverend Joseph Nollet of Hope Lutheran Church, who explained that the night was about “healing, remembering and moving forward.”
Reverend Nollet then opened the podium to students who wished to share poems, psalms, personal stories of how suicide has affected them, and, for the acapella group “A Minor,” songs.
Jessalyn Pennington shared a personal story about losing one of her classmates to suicide, and how that day was one of the saddest of her life. Pennington is a member of Active Minds, a national organization that raises awareness to mental health problems and focuses on suicide prevention and the negative stigma surrounding suicide.
“There’s a lot of shame and stigma that comes along with suicide,” said Pennington. “Active Minds lets people know that we are here, and there are resources on campus for them.”
The candlelight memorial was part of the annual “Suicide Prevention Week,” which is seven days dedicated to raising suicide awareness and paying memorial to those affected by suicide and battling depression, according to Elizabeth Cracco of the department of Student Health Services.
“We’re trying to get the discussion going about suicide,” said Cracco.
The play, “Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” focused on the issue of suicide, and an open forum, are other events hosted by UConn’s Suicide Prevention Committee in honor of Suicide Awareness Week. In addition to these events, Fairfield Way is currently home to the “Field of Memories,” where students can place yellow flags in the grass for those suffering from and those they have lost to mental health problems.
Nicholaes Roosevelt brought the memorial to a close with an offering of blessing.
“All ritual really is is taking what’s in our heart and bringing it outside. This is true of lighting candles,” said Roosevelt. “Just think about the light within your own heart, a light within the people you love, and the people who have passed away.”