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Saint Mary’s student government organizes suicide awareness week

, and | Monday, October 2, 2023

Amelia Bostetter | The Observer
Saint Mary’s students walked to the Grotto on Sept. 26 to raise awareness about suicide prevention.

For suicide awareness week, the Student Government Association (SGA) at Saint Mary’s organized a walk to the Grotto, displayed banners and posted to social media with quotes from students.

Students marched one by one from Le Mans Green to the Grotto at Notre Dame on Tuesday to light candles and pray in honor of people they lost to suicide.

Katie Hunter, a senior at the College who is one of the presidents of the Residence Hall Association, said suicide awareness week was held because September is suicide prevention month.

“We wanted to promote the idea on campus of not being alone,” Hunter said.

Wednesday at 6 p.m., students joined together to sign a banner to promote suicide awareness. “SMICKS MATTER” was written on the banner in big, bold and blue letters. The banner had hundreds of signatures and positive affirmations.

Students gathered for a campus ministry pop-up session Thursday. Carrie Badertscher, ecumenical chaplain with the Center for Faith, Action and Ministry (CFAM), explained the sessions.

“On Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., we have what we call the ministry pop-up, which is located in the Common Good Lounge on the second floor of the student center,” Badertscher said.

Badertscher said the discussions at the pop-ups are wide-ranging.

“We talk about lots of things from issues with roommates or favorite movies they’ve watched or football games or classes … This is also a place where we talk about faith,” she said.

According to Badertscher, CFAM is a place for students to come and go as their schedules allow.

It is a place for students to come and dwell. A place of belonging where we talk about lots of things,” Badertscher said. “It’s a judgment free zone, so you can bring your true authentic self and not feel like you have to shape-shift to be somebody to walk into the space … We recognize that perhaps we’re more alike than we are different and in this space we seek unity and not uniformity. We recognize the diversity and wonder of each person and allow them to be fully present, to be fully known and fully loved for who they are.”

Nora Clark, a Saint Mary’s freshman, said she enjoyed the outreach activities at the CFAM pop-up.

“It’s really fun getting to help pastor Carrie make snacks for outreach programs,” Clark said. “It’s super cool, getting to interact with girls from all different areas of study and all different years.”

Badertscher said the pop-up is her favorite time of the week.

“I see students connecting with each other in the space that perhaps would not have connected outside of the space,” she explained.

Sarah Peabody, a sophomore at the College, said the pop-up was important to her.

“I started coming last year as a freshman because some of the RAs in my building would be involved with it,” Peabody said. “There is nothing better than being done with class for the day and finding these people.”

Peabody also complemented the work of Badertscher.

“I really value the work that pastor Carrie has invested into this event and I really hope that we can keep it going for years to come.”

To conclude the week, the SGA hung the banner students signed Wednesday right across from the dining hall on Friday evening.

Amelia Bostetter | The Observer
Hundreds of students signed a banner which said “SMICKS MATTER” in honor of suicide awareness week.

Caitlin Sizemore, a Saint Mary’s junior and resident assistant, spoke about her takeaways from the week.

“As an RA, I think caring about residents is something that’s very close to my heart … letting people know that they have one person that cares about them, sometimes it’s all we need,” Sizemore said.

Hunter added that she would have liked to have suicide awareness week during her first year.

“My first year was really hard … I think if I had seen something like this event my first year, it just would have given me another boost,” Hunter said. “I guess that was my intention going into it — to reach those people who are struggling and let them see people do care.”

According to Hunter, it’s easy to feel so much pain in a moment and not realize that there are going to be breaks.

“There are going to be moments where you feel better and I think just being there to remind them that they matter and things will change is a big thing,” she said.

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