Counseling Services Office Holds Vigil for Suicide Prevention Day

September 11, 2019 Grace Sosa, Staff Writer

(ABILENE, Texas) In honor of National Suicide Prevention Day, HSU’s Office of Counseling Services and mental health peer mentors held a vigil to remember loved ones lost to suicide and reflect on the impact suicide can have on a community. Faculty, staff, and students stood in solidarity with each other, held their candles, and wrote the names of people in their lives who have been affected by suicide. The candlelight vigil was held on Tuesday at 9 p.m. at the Alumni Wall.

Stronger Together

Suicide Prevention Candlelight Vigil
Suicide Prevention Candlelight Vigil

Nikki Rhodes, director of counseling services, says she has wanted to plan a vigil since she came to HSU. “The event is meant to be a prayerful time centered around communion,” she said. “We want to bring our community together to strengthen the different groups of people who have struggled because of suicide, whether they have lost someone, or they have considered suicide.”

HSU’s mental health peer mentors are trained to be a listening ear to students who may not want to see a counselor. Many of them hope to work in helping professions, including counseling and social work, or they have struggled with mental health themselves. This year’s mental health peer mentors are Joshua Pruitt, Miranda Stewart, Hannah Beth Neighbors, Abigail Monigold, and Maranda Westbrook.

A Supportive Community

Miranda Stewart speaks at the vigil
Miranda Stewart speaks at the vigil.

Stewart led much of the vigil, addressing each group in attendance: people who have lost someone to suicide, people who are supporting their friends and family who have considered suicide, people who have experienced suicidal thoughts or attempted suicide, and people who are currently considering taking their lives. She offered prayer for all groups, reminding them that, “As a community, we shoulder the weight of suicide together.”

Stewart encouraged all in attendance to continue the hard and holy work of saving lives. “Community is a big part of healing,” she said. “I chose to be a mental health peer mentor to be a point person for mental health on campus.”

The mental health peer mentors are planning other events for the year to normalize issues around mental health. Events such as ShareLight give students a space to speak about their struggles and feel supported by the HSU community.

In addition to talking with a mental health peer mentor, students can contact university counseling services at 325-671-2272 or by visiting Moody Student Center, Room 208.