On Wednesday night, students at UNB Fredericton took a moment out of their busy first full week back to class to come together in a show of support and community.
A candlelight vigil and moment of silence were held in the SUB quad to observe World Suicide Prevention Day. It was a time of intense emotions but, perhaps more importantly, of hope.
“[We had] such positive support and I think it was just a good outlet for people who don’t necessarily know how to approach suicide, to approach that sensitively or the right way. It was a good way for them to show their support and just get it talking in residences,” said Meghan Stultz, a hall proctor at Joy Kidd House and co-organizer of the event.
“We really felt a sense of community here tonight. It was great,” said Kendra Watson, education proctor at Lady Beaverbrook Residence and other co-organizer.
World Suicide Prevention Day is on Sept. 10 every year, but for UNB students, the day is marked by the all-too-real reminder of the pain and suffering suicide can bring.
This past summer, a student from UNB and resident of Joy Kidd was lost to mental illness. Sept. 10 was his birthday.
For many of the event’s attendees, this day was all about honouring the friend and housemate they had lost. After the vigil, students sent up Chinese lanterns in his memory.
UNB Counselling Services were set up in McConnell Hall for any students who needed to speak to someone.
Though difficult, Stultz said she hoped that the event encouraged people to be open about mental illness.
“That was my point, was to start conversations about it; just make it aware, make your friends know and just start conversation.”