The 1,000 Voices Vigil on Slavin Lawn was a commemorative display for collegiate suicide victims in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month. It was collaboratively orchestrated by Providence College’s Board of Programmers (BOP) and the Active Minds club.
Spread across Slavin Lawn, 1,000 yellow pinwheels, representing the average 1,000 college lives lost to suicide in the United States every year, were evenly distributed on both sides of Slavin Lawn. These pinwheels stood peacefully and stationary, inviting those passing by to a moment of reflection. Along Slavin’s walkway were informative signs, discussing the importance of self-care, mental health, and knowing when to get help. Walking past the pinwheels and posters reminds us as people and peers that there is no shame in seeking support because we are humans first, not students. The event incites us to check in on our peers, appreciate those we love, and remember those we have lost to suicide.
There were BOP representatives seated at the end of the pathway with sticky notes and smiles, offering passersby a Sharpie to write a commemorative note of positivity. They also handed out purple and turquoise ribbons, the National Suicide Prevention’s colors.
BOP placed these uplifting notes on a large “P” sign, the logo for the College, that they will hang outside their office in lower Slavin. Along with discussion of mental health, suicide is rarely talked about in the PC community. Many students have vocalized their support for events like the 1,000 Voices Vigil, as it demonstrates knowledge on how to help ourselves and our peers at PC.
This event was started two years ago by Tom Bernard ’21 and was led by Kaan Cebeci ’22 this year. Kaan stated that “it is a special thing bringing attention to the importance of mental health among students, especially given where we are right now regarding the pandemic. We hope this display and the affirmations written by students inspired and strengthened some of those who walked by today.”
The importance of this event is evident among the PC student body, especially after going through the mental toll spurred by the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the CDC, “In June 2020, 25% of surveyed adults aged 18–24 years reported experiencing suicidal ideation related to the pandemic in the past 30 days.” That age group represents the majority of the student population, and the Center for Disease Control’s survey suggests that, statistically, a fourth of this age group had suicidal thoughts last year. As a community, country, and world, everyone experienced mental health struggles, whether individually or through someone they knew or loved. After this year in particular, the Vigil was ever so meaningful.
You are never alone, Friars.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Providence College Counseling Center: 401-865-2343