By Josephine Vaccaro
Shenandoah’s Active Minds hosted a candlelight vigil on Sept. 25 for National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month in honor of loved ones lost to suicide.
At 7:30 p.m. Sept. 25, the members of Active Minds had a small candlelight vigil with candles and pinwheels to honor those lost.
“Active Minds is a mental health organization,” said President Marie Raymond. “The goal of the club is to get students to be more active in the conversation of mental health.”
The second-leading cause of death in the U.S. is due to suicide, and around 39% of college students have a significant mental health issue, according to Active Minds Inc.
“The board and I decided we needed to do something,” Raymond said. “We can’t just sit here and say ‘hey it’s happening’ and post the facts on social media.”
This was the club’s first candlelight vigil ever and was supposed to be open for all who wanted to attend, but it had to resort to members only because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those who could not attend were able to watch through Zoom. This year 15 people attended in person while five viewed the vigil online.
“The candlelight vigil is both a way to remember loved ones who have committed suicide but also a way to reach out to others and remind them that there is much more in store for your life,” said Monica Werner, a Student Government Association representative and COVID officer of Active Minds.
Members in the club were encouraged to speak during the night. Raymond discussed mental health and the statistics. Alicia Gomez, a freshman and the club’s social media coordinator, and Jessica Watson, a freshman and new member of the club, also spoke.
Watson said that the candlelight vigil means a lot to her. “When I was just 4 years old, I lost someone that I loved so much. ….Fourteen years later and it still hasn’t gotten easier.”
“Seeing us all come together as a group to raise awareness and to honor those we have lost to suicide just fills me with hope and faith,” Watson said. “We can make a difference in the world.”