Event raises awareness of suicide rates

by Stacey Oparnica

Every 15 minutes, someone in the U.S. commits suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This statistic was the underlying theme of, A Night to Write Love on Her Arms, a benefit show held Nov. 15 in Nasatir Hall.

Six San Diego State students organized the event for a business management class project which was meant to raise awareness of suicide, self-injury, depression and addiction, in addition to pro- moting open discussion of such issues.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Preven- tion, suicide is the second-leading cause of death among college stu- dents. Taking a wider age bracket into account, 2010 data from the CDC reveals suicide is the third- leading cause of death among 15-24-year-olds.

Alpha Phi Gamma, Nika Water, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, Start Fresh Clothing and Young Life sponsored the show, featuring rock band Her Crimson Love, a poetry reading, a spoken word piece and a rap segment by Brother Nature. The show’s proceeds totaled $250, all of which benefitted the nonprofit organization To Write Love On Her Arms.

Throughout the two-hour event, audience members and event participants applauded, laughed and cried as individuals stood before the crowd to share their stories.

Hope was one reoccurring theme of the evening but the criticality of talking openly about depression, suicide and self-inju- ry played an equally sizeable role.

“I have one person that will be anonymous that I have watched attempt to commit suicide,” business management senior and event organizer Justin Wilson said. “It was really hard on me, just because I was talking to him in that moment and I was telling him how much he meant to me and I was telling him how much I wanted him to be around and he looked at me and said, ‘Your life would be better without me in it.’”

Journalism senior and event organizer Erika Kelsey, whose cousin was diagnosed with major depression, said when talking to someone in such a situation, it’s important to emphasize the significance of that person’s life and the impact they have on your own.

“That’s what I shared with my cousin and she didn’t real- ize that until I told her, ‘You are very important to me. I love you. Without you in this world, many people would be hurt,’” Kelsey said.

During the event, theater sophomore Becca Burrola read a poem she wrote for her friend Mark, who committed suicide last year.

“No matter how tragedies beyond my control take place,” Burrola read aloud. “I vow to live and stay my course within this race.”