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‘Stand Up to Suicide’ Gives Students Suicide Awareness, Empowerment

Even a cloudy, rainy day couldn’t stop students from showing support for Katie Hickman’s honors project and standing up to suicide.

Students+fill+out+%E2%80%9CI+stand+up+to+suicide+because%E2%80%9D+signs.
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‘Stand Up to Suicide’ Gives Students Suicide Awareness, Empowerment

Students fill out “I stand up to suicide because” signs.

Students fill out “I stand up to suicide because” signs.

Brooklyn Dennison

Students fill out “I stand up to suicide because” signs.

Brooklyn Dennison

Brooklyn Dennison

Students fill out “I stand up to suicide because” signs.

By Brooklyn Dennison, The University of Akron

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Rainy days did not stop Katie Hickman from pursuing her honors project, Stand Up to Suicide, which was dedicated to raising awareness about suicide and empowering those who may have been impacted by it.

For her project, Hickman displayed 123 chairs in Coleman Commons to symbolize 123 lives lost to suicide every day in the United States. Hickman then encouraged students to fill out signs explaining why they stand up to suicide, which were taped to the chairs.

Brooklyn Dennison
A student with her sign.

The event happened on a Wednesday afternoon, a cloudy and rainy day. However, despite the weather, Hickman had nearly 70 people stop by and fill out signs.

“People were excited to fill out a sign, which was really cool,” Hickman said.

Several volunteers were present during the event, including students and members from UA’s Counseling Center and Luck Tisch, the community outreach coordinator from the Alcohol, Drug Addiction & Mental Health Services Board.

Two student volunteers from the beginning of the event, Gabriele Hovel and Dana Hoffman, both agreed that it is important to raise awareness about the stigma suicide has, whether a person has been personally affected by it or not.

Brooklyn Dennison
Hickman, along with volunteers getting ready for the event.

Hovel said she has had personal experiences with the topic, while Hoffman has not, but has had people close to her who have.

In a previous interview about the event, Hickman said that she hopes students can walk away from the event with suicide prevention resources and empowerment to have tough conversations about mental health.

Hickman could not say if the event lived up to her expectations, but she said that she was happy with the event turn out and thought it was a good way for people to have conversations about a difficult topic.

Hickman’s favorite part of the event was reading what people wrote. Hickman said there was a lot of signs talking about loved ones that they have lost.

“I advocate for suicide prevention because I know how it feels for your pain to whisper ‘the only way out is to end it.’ Depression, anxiety and suicide ideation are all part of my story; I’ve needed people to fight for me when I couldn’t fight for myself. Now that I’m walking in recovery and healing, I’m devoted to doing that for others,” Hickman said.

This story was originally published on The Buchtelite on October 3, 2018.

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