Student Government hosts prayer service, discussion for National Suicide Prevention Week
Siobhan Loughney | Monday, September 6, 2021
Notre Dame Student Government is presenting “Glad You’re Here,” this Monday through Wednesday, a series of events for mental health awareness, healing and suicide prevention to observe National Suicide Prevention Week.
The Student Government’s goal is to open conversations surrounding mental health and suicide, provide access to Notre Dame’s mental health resources and create space for healing. The events begin Monday with a table in Duncan Student Center, where student government representatives will be handing out free t-shirts and providing information and resources for mental health and suicide prevention from 11 a.m. to noon.
“We really just want to make students aware of the resources and kind of destigmatize seeking those resources, because sometimes that can be a really challenging part of actually getting help,” Juliette Kelley, co-director of Student Government’s health and well-being said.
As the week progresses, the events move from information and resources to healing and conversation. The healing and memorial prayer service will take place on Tuesday evening at the Grotto and is open to all faiths and beliefs. Although the service begins at 8 p.m., organizers are encouraging people to arrive early, as they will be distributing candles and flowers and allowing people to place photos of loved ones at the altar. Mary Elizabeth Stern, the Student Government Director of faith and service, has been instrumental in the planning of the prayer service. Stern said the prayer service is about community and healing, but also the destigmatization of mental health within the Catholic Church.
“There’s little that anyone can do that eases the pain and the loss of being affected by suicide, whether that’s you are currently struggling, or you have lost someone close to you by suicide, but we are going to do the most that we can to lift that burden of grief, just a little bit,” Stern, a sophomore, said.
The final installment of the week will be “We Want You Here,” a discussion in LaFortune Student Center featuring Active Minds, a nonprofit for the destigmatization of mental illness, and Dr. Megan Brown, director of the McDonald Center for Student Well-Being. The discussion, which will take place Wednesday from 7 to 7:45 p.m., will explore ways to help oneself and others when dealing with suicidal thoughts.
Student Government’s co-Director of health and well-being Austin Wyman said the goal of these events is not to shock people with the severity of the mental health and suicide crises we see on campus and around the world, but rather to take action, giving people the tools and resources they need to heal or help someone else who is struggling.
Student Government leaders organized events with the goal of opening long-lasting conversations surrounding mental health and suicide prevention. While Kelley and Wyman placed special emphasis on these topics for National Suicide Prevention Week, the conclusion of Wednesday’s discussion does not close the door on such conversations. Wyman is also a member of Notre Dame’s chapter of Active Minds, and said the organization will be hosting State of Mind Week at the end of the month. The week will feature the club’s signature event, “In Our Own Words,” which will share community members’ experiences living with mental illnesses.
“I want to make sure that mental health and just the culture around mental health on campus is an ongoing conversation,” Wyman said. “The conversation never stops because once it stops people think that nobody’s listening to them anymore.”