The Center for Community Engagement (CCE) at Missouri State University has joined forces with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and Project Semicolon to encourage conversations about mental illness on campus and in the community.
A series of events, themed “Project Semicolon: Start the Conversation, End the Stigma,” will be held in September. Open to the public, they focus on providing hope to people who have mental illnesses and their loved ones, and remembering college students and veterans who have committed suicide.
According to the American College Health Association, suicide rates among young adults between the ages of 15-24 have tripled since the 1950s and suicide is now the second most common cause of death among college students.
“We want to raise awareness of mental illness and suicide prevention as college students often have mental illnesses,” said event spokesperson Amy Fouse. “This event is important to help start conversations and end the stigma that is sometimes associated with this.”
The lineup of scheduled events includes:
“In Our Own Voice” features Stephanie Appleby from NAMI Southwest Missouri who will share her story of overcoming agoraphobia after years of being homebound. It will be held at 7 p.m. in the Plaster Student Union Theater and counselling sessions will be available.
The Field of Memories exhibit, a display of a display of numbered flags representing suicides among thousands of college students and veterans each year, is scheduled from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. outside the north entrance of Plaster Student Union. At noon, buglers will recognize fallen heroes with a live rendition of taps.
NAMI Southwest Missouri will organize “Illuminating the Darkness – Neon Night Run” at 7:30 p.m. at McBride Elementary School, 5005 S. Farm Rd. 135 in Springfield.
From 9 a.m.-3 p.m. daily, individuals are invited to visit the event table in Plaster Student Union to take the pledge of ending stigma of mental illness and talking about it in a healthy way, as well as take a photo of themselves supporting the cause and sharing it on social media.
For more information, contact CCE Project Coordinator Charlie Whitaker at 417-836-5774.