Flags outside Student Union represent student suicide victims
Published: Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, October 5, 2010 00:10
More than 1,000 yellow flags organized into meticulous rows outside the Student Union blow furiously in the bitter wind in the "Field of Memories," assembled by Active Minds at UConn.
The flags represent the 1,100 students who commit suicide on U.S. college campuses each year, according to Jen Barney, a 3rd-semester psychology and family studies double major and member of Active Minds.
According to Amy Holland, a 5th-semester psychology and family studies double major and president of the club, suicide is the second biggest cause of death among 15-24 year-olds and on U.S. college campuses.
Students may dedicate and add flags to the field in honor of someone or the cause by visiting Active Minds' table on Fairfield Way between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. until Friday and until 3 p.m. on Saturday.
The group, which has assembled the field for the second year, has added flags dedicated last year, said Jenna Mitrano, a 1st-semester physiology and neurobiology major and treasurer of Active Minds.
Holland thinks adding last year's flags to the field "keeps it current," adding that if 1,100 students got ill each year and died, it would be called an epidemic.
"It's a real person, not just a flag in the ground," Mitrano said.
Yesterday was the National Day Without Stigma, which ran concurrently with the event.
Barney handed students sheets of information with a piece of Bubble Wrap, so they could physically "stomp out the stigma." The club had more than 200 pieces of Bubble Wrap to give away. Students were also able to add handwritten notes with their ideas on how to destigmatize mental illness to a banner, an activity called "stick it to stigma." Holland hopes to be able to display the banner.
Mitrano hoped to raise awareness about resources on campus, such as counseling and Mental Health Services.
"If people don't feel comfortable seeking resources, they probably won't," Mitrano said.
According to Holland, the leading cause of deaths among U.S. college students is accidents, meaning that "both are preventable."
"It's a huge issue. It needs to not be hidden," Mitrano said.
UConn Suicide Prevention Week takes place about a month after the National Suicide Prevention Week. In honor of the week, the Women's Center will be showing a movie on Tuesday at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., and the Rainbow Center will be showing a movie on Friday at 2 p.m.
The African American Cultural Center will be hosting a student panel about suicide on Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
Full information about UConn Suicide Prevention Week may be found online at www.suicideprevention.uconn.edu.
Active Minds at UConn, which is in its third year, meets on Wednesdays from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Student Union, Room 221. The group can be found online at www.groupspaces.com/activemindsatuconn and students can join its mailing list by e-mailing email@example.com.