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Students use their ‘Active Minds’ after tragedy at Fairfield University

Staff Reporter

Published: Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, February 9, 2011 22:02

With all the opportunities that attending college delivers, one would never imagine that recent studies have exposed a shocking truth revealing that suicide amongst college students has peaked. According to an article on young adults on About.com, one in 12 college students create a suicide plan. One in four college students suffer from depression. 1,088 suicides occur at colleges every year. What measurements are being formed to bring awareness and prevention to this growing issue?

The suicide of Fairfield University student on Tuesday, Jan. 18, has created a stir in the district.

"I think the suicide at Fairfield should really be an eye opener for our community and an indication that we need to make a difference," said Bowski. "This is something that is going to take time, but certainly shouldn't be ignored."

There is an organization at Sacred Heart University with this matter in mind.

Active Minds is a non-profit student run organization at Sacred Heart whose purpose is to spread suicide awareness amongst the community. The club was created in the Spring of 2008 as extension of the sorority Nu Epsilon Omega, now known as Kappa Delta, as part of their many philanthropies.

Though its involvement primarily comes from former Nu Ep members and current Kappa Delta sisters, the club is trying to engage more students on campus. Active Minds hopes to expand itself to different demographics of the Sacred Heart community and is encouraging more students to get involved, whether or not they are involved in Greek life.

Their goal is simple, though the task at hand may not be easy. Active Minds wants to reach out to those who are in need of help by directing students to find guidance if they or someone they know are suffering from depression and need better assistance.

"At first I wasn't really sure what I was getting myself into, but after we did the first couple programs I realized that people need help and this is the best way I can help the community by directing people to a better cause," said sophomore class president Nichole Bowski.

The club hosts and participates in several on and off campus events. Bowski said that the club will be providing a "No Stress Week" during the Spring midterms and finals weeks where they hope to provide an atmosphere in which students can unwind and de-stress. They also volunteered this past fall in the "Out of the Darkness Walk" hosted in Westport, Conn., for friends and families who have lost loved ones to suicide.

Bowski said, "It was the most touching moment of my life to see the positive affect we had on these people. They were so broken from the lives they lost, but were so grateful for our support."

Active Minds will engage in walks such as this, as well as host various spirit weeks throughout semester spreading knowledge.

Suicide awareness isn't an easy subject to deal with for many students, said Bowski. Some students tend to masque their own depression, which ultimately leads them into a great internal battle.

"We want to be there for them to stop them from getting to that point," said Bowski.

Alarming as it is, the issue is closer to the Sacred Heart community than expected.

Depression holds no prejudice on age, as it sweeps the nation, affecting people of all ages. Yet, with programs and the help of men and women, such as those in Active Minds, people are joining together to put an end to it.

"Active Minds has really opened my eyes to what people are so blind to," said Bowski. "You don't see people in depression. You didn't see the girl from Fairfield who so tragically committed suicide. Sometimes depression is completely unsighted, but that's what we are here for -- to bring light upon a shadowed issue and to bring a voice to those who've been silenced."

 

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