Imagine how different iconic movies such as “Flubber,” “Hook” and “Mrs. Doubtfire” would have been without Robin Williams cast in his specific roles.
If another actor filled those shoes, would the movies have the same impacts on society?
The sudden death of the actor and comedian sparked a conversation around the nation about suicide and recognizing signs of depression and suicidal tendencies.
Now more than ever, during National Suicide Prevention Week, organizations such as To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA), the World Health Organization and American Association of Suicidology seek to educate people on depression, suicide and how to prevent suicide.
This year, the overall theme, as spearheaded by TWLOHA, is “No one else can play your part.” The goal of the TWLOHA movement this year is that people will recognize they have a role in this world.
According to statistics provided by the American College Health Association, more than 1,000 suicides occur on college campuses each year.
With numbers as high as these, Abigail French, director of the Women’s Center, recognized a need for outreach to students on campus regarding suicide prevention and awareness.
In the past, the organization has invited speakers from TWLOHA and Theater Delta, an interactive theater program to show students the warning signs of depression and suicide and how to intervene.
This year, however, French wanted to shift the focus of the event to the help available for college students specifically.
“Mental health in general has become more of a priority on college campuses,” French said. “I believe people are becoming more aware of (suicide and depression), so I think it, the problem, is getting better. I think it is important for students to be aware that it isn’t scary to ask for help, and it isn’t uncommon either.”
The Women’s Center set up a tent on the Carr Health Building lawn to educate students on the signs of depression and the resources available on campus Wednesday, which was World Suicide Prevention Day.
Informative fliers were handed out to those who passed by. Yellow armbands, pens and stress balls were also given to students. By the end of the afternoon, 55 students stopped by the tent.
Though past events have drawn larger crowds, French said the students who expressed interest in their program were sincere and grateful.
“We were very happy with the turn out today,” she said. “Most students expressed their gratitude for the information we provided them.”
Suicide is the second leading cause of death in the U.S. for people between the ages of 15 and 24.
A majority of college students fall into this range, meaning the need for education and awareness is still a relevant issue for students at Murray State.
Because of this, French plans to continue acknowledging National Suicide Prevention Week and World Suicide Prevention Day next year.
“Next year we hope to add to the event by having some sort of way for students to remember those they may have lost to suicide,” French said. “Also, we have plans to move forward with the Walk the Walk program next year. Next year’s event will likely span the whole week.”
Story by Hunter Harrell, Features Editor