Students wrote inspirational messages of hope on the flags at Memory Mall.
Students wrote inspirational messages of hope on the flags at Memory Mall.

September 10 was World Suicide Prevention Awareness Day which took place during National Suicide Awareness Week last week. Counseling and Psychological Services staff members, interns/trainees, Peer Educators and Active Minds Members as well as Student Government Association volunteers, talked with students, faculty and staff about suicide prevention and encouraged them to write messages of hope on yellow flags to place in the “Field of Memories” at Memory Mall.

The exhibit was a powerful and poignant visual display representing the 1,100 suicides that occur on U. S. college campuses each year. As the UCF community members walked by, they were asked to write a message of hope to someone who may be struggling with depression or to remember someone lost to suicide. The goal was to fill the field with 1,100 individually signed flag, and by 2 p.m., the team met its goal by filling the field with messages of hope, love and remembrances of lives lost to suicide. SGA provided 150 free T-shirts for the event.

The Field of Memories event has occurred annually since 2011 and also serves as an opportunity to advertise the QPR a thon which occurred on Sept 16. Guided by certified trainers, QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) is a program designed for everyone to learn what can be done to prevent suicide.

“Sometimes people don’t get involved when they know someone is struggling because they don’t know what to say, or worry they might say something wrong,” associate director Counseling and Psychological Services. “QPR training is a program that not only helps a person recognize when a person is in distress, but teaches them how to ask the questions and then persuade the person to seek help. It’s an invaluable tool for anyone.”

Approximately 70 attendees learned the signs of suicide and three basic principles of how to help save a life in the one-hour training session. QPR a thon was open to students, faculty and staff. The trainings began at 9 a.m. with a new session starting on the top of each hour with the last training offered at 2 p.m.

The Office of Counseling and Psychological Services is in the Division of Student Development and Enrollment Services.