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The Greyhound

The Student News Site of Loyola University Maryland

The Greyhound

Suicide Awareness event brings important topic to light

In light of Suicide Prevention Month, the Active Minds club at Loyola University hosted the annual Suicide Awareness Candle Lighting on Tuesday, Sept. 29. The candle lighting was open for students who have struggled with suicide, have been touched by suicide or just wished to support the cause.

Each participant was given a candle, and was seated around the room making a circle. The Active Mind’s president, Lauren Palazzo, spoke about the importance of suicide awareness.

She then proceeded to read several statements out loud, and the group was asked to light their candles whenever they could identify with one of them.

Slowly she began stating, “Light your candles if you have ever had a friend who has attempted suicide…Light your candle if you have had a relative die because of suicide…Light a candle if you have ever contemplated suicide…”

When Palazzo finished reading the last statement, almost everyone in the room had their candles lit. It was surprising for all involved how the people present with lighted candles were people who they have passed by every day around campus, have taken class with or have even been roommates with.

After this, students were more comfortable to share their personal stories with the group. They spoke about overcoming suicide, helping a suicidal friend, or simply remembering the loved ones they have lost.

It was a circle of trust and support, in which one could open up and let out one’s feelings. In that moment, each of the students helped the person next to them, even if they were complete strangers.  

The two major messages that stood out on suicide prevention: Break the silence, and friendships save lives.

Breaking the silence refers to speaking out if a person is feeling depressed or contemplating suicide. They should not feel embarrassed of those feelings. Rather, they should seek a friend, a family member, a faculty member, or a professional for help. Likewise, if someone knows of or sees signs of depression or suicide in a friend, they need to have a conversation with them, speak up and tell someone about it.

Friendships save lives means that by having compassion for a person in need and empathizing with them, they will know that they are not alone. One of the students at the event elaborated on what it meant to be the kind of friend a troubled person needs, saying, “It is the kind of friend that is willing to sit down and have a conversation with you without a problem. Because that friend will be your image of hope.”

Palazzo also provided statistics about suicide and the suicidal to inform Loyola students:

-Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US for all ages. (CDC)

– There is one death by suicide in the US every 13 minutes. (CDC)

– Depression affects 20-25% of Americans ages 18+ in a given year. (CDC)

– Only half of all Americans experiencing an episode of major depression receive treatment. (NAMI)

– An estimated quarter million people each year become suicide survivors (AAS).

For more information about Suicide Prevention Month visit

For more statistics, visit

*Suicide Prevention Lifeline for the US: 1 (800) 273-8255

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Suicide Awareness event brings important topic to light