by Nicole Silverio ’22
On Monday, October 7, in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, the Providence College Board of Programmers (BOP) and the Active Minds club put together 1,000 Voices on Slavin Lawn to educate students and staff on campus about suicide awareness and prevention.
1,000 yellow pinwheels were placed across Slavin Lawn, commemorating college students who have committed suicide.
Students wrote positive messages on sticky notes, which were then placed on a cardboard cutout of the letter “P” (standing for Providence College), which included messages of condolences and about what they love about their lives in order to help uplift people and help them reflect on what they love about themselves and their lives.
This will be hung up in lower Slavin outside of the BOP office for all students to see. Students were also served Knead doughnuts and coffee. The service began in the morning, and the pinwheels remained through the afternoon.
Tom Bernard ’21 was the event coordinator of 1,000 Voices. After joining BOP in April, he began working on this event in June.
“This is an important message,” said Bernard, “we haven’t had a suicide at PC since 2011, but it is an important message to have in the back of our minds. It is a great source of community building and bringing people together. Although it is not an uplifting subject, it makes you grateful for what you do have in life.”
Bernard explained how this event emulates a national suicide awareness event hosted by Active Minds called Send Silence Packing, where a backpack is laid out to represent every college student who has committed suicide nationwide. Bernard, Cheryl Granai, the coordinator of Outreach and Suicide Prevention on campus, and the Active Minds club decided to use pinwheels instead of backpacks to represent each victim.
BOP and Active Minds members passed out cards with resource information to students so people can easily seek help for themselves or a loved one.
Bernard stated that over 1,000 college students commit suicide per year in the United States, which is equivalent to the average class size at PC.
He stated, “We haven’t had an event about suicide on campus before which made the administration hesitant in the beginning because it is a rather touchy topic. But we hope we can represent such a touchy subject in an uplifting way to spark meaningful dialogue about the issue.”
It is important to raise awareness on campuses across the country about the issue of suicide. Bernard stated that the goal is to “break a bubble (amongst the PC community) and we will have a wider knowledge of what goes on in the country, even if it isn’t an issue in our school specifically. We hope people can learn about this and learn how to help each other in order to truly be community builders.”
Bernard added that he would like to give a shout out to the chair of the committee, Laura Fusco ’20, who helped him every step of the way, and that he could not have done this without her.
Being the first suicide awareness event on campus, this is a new message being spread to students. The event gave students the ability to learn more about a topic not typically focused on at PC, providing them with more knowledge of the resources to help others who may be thinking of suicide. It is a strong message to spread this Mental Health Awareness Month.