First Year Writing Student Raises Money for Suicide Awareness & Prevention

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First year writing student Hannah Foreman tackled a different approach when she was asked to remix an essay she wrote for WRA 150. A loved one of Foreman’s has suffered from depression, and attempted suicide as a result of those feelings associated with the illness. This is what inspired her essay, and what motivated her to run a bake sale for suicide awareness and prevention in Brody Fall semester 2014 .

In 2012, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 40,600 suicides, which makes suicide the 10th leading cause of death for Americans. One reason for such a high number could be a result of the stigma associated with mental illness, and could be why people neglect to seek help. After all, mental illness isn’t always approached in the same way as the stomach flu or a broken arm. These are sicknesses and ailments of the physical, the tangible. Mental illness is something you can’t see, and is treated a lot differently than physical illness (this cartoon from the Huffington Post is a great representation of this idea).

IMG_0182As such, mental illness carries the weight of shame, the idea of, “you could get better if you really wanted to.” When people don’t get better without proper attendance and care, without “willpower,” they’re seen as lazy, crazy, when they’re absolutely not; they’re sick. So, how can we get rid of the stigma? I asked Foreman for some ideas, and she said:

To lessen this stigma the community needs to be more accepting of mental illness. Every individual needs to do their part to understand what’s really going on with someone who’s suffering. Know that everyone is silently battling something that you have no idea about, so do your best to be kind and treat others with warmth and compassion.

IMG_0183I agree with Foreman. You do truly never know what someone else is going through, and this is especially important to remember on college campuses like Michigan State University. According to the JED Foundation, suicide is the second leading cause of death among college-aged students, and half of all college students have had suicidal thoughts. College is a time of stress. There’s the pressure to do more, and be more. There’s non negotiable deadlines. There’s the idea that you need to 4.0 everything, maintain a social life, hold down a job, and have enough time to just relax, and many students experience the pressure deeply and unbearably. If you find yourself feeling these overwhelming feelings, do not lose hope. As Foreman said:

Days get brighter and life gets better. Someone out there loves you and supports you. There are also people who are willing to help you battle what you’re feeling.”

There are professional resources right here in East Lansing and Lansing to help you fight. Michigan State has The Counseling Center, for example, right in the Student Services Building on campus. Additionally, there’s the The Listening Ear Hotline, a 24-hour crisis hotline. If you find yourself suffering, do not hesitate to seek help from these resources. You can get better and deserve to get better. If you think one of your friends is suffering, let them know of these options. Additionally, Foreman gave the following advice:

Be the best friend you can be. Be supportive and positive. Just be there for the person when they need you and look for cues that indicate suicidal thoughts and actions.”

With her bake sale, Foreman raised $140, all of which was donated to The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, a nonprofit organization. The most important thing we need to remember is that suicide is preventable, and we need to contribute to the idea that seeking help is not shameful, but just as necessary as going to the doctor for pneumonia. Mental illness is an unseen heaviness that affects the heart and mind, and deserves the same attention as a physical illness.IMG_0179

Even if you’re not personally affected by mental illness, you can still do your part to help, be it through donations to The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, volunteering at the Listening Ear, and just by doing your best to put more kindness in the world. Smile at a stranger, pay it forward, hold the door, or just be kind for the sake of being kind; I think the world needs more of that.

 

Celebrate Black History Month With Us

The first of February marks the beginning of black history month, an annual celebration of the achievements of black Americans. It is a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history. According to the History Channel, “The event grew out of ‘Negro History Week,’ the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating black history.” WRAC will be celebrating this month with special articles featuring influential African American community members and writers as well as using the following hashtags: #blackhistory #blackhistorymonth #blackTwitter. Make sure to celebrate with us on Facebook and Twitter.

A Thank You Note To The WRAC Front Ladies

They handle everything from scheduling, traveling, appointment letters, and managing overrides to printing, processing, student hiring, and ordering office supplies for graduate and undergraduate students as well as faculty members of WRAC. These amazing front ladies are not only proud Spartans, but also key members of the Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures department for which they have worked for from three months to 10 years. You can find them in the main office (room 253), or in the Writing Center, but no matter where Melissa Arthurton, Marsha Edington, Karly Mitchell, Diana Shank and Judy Easterbrook can be found they are always working hard to keep everything and everyone in the WRAC department running smoothly.

When asked about their experiences working with the department, all the ladies agreed with Marsha when she said, “It is a great department. Everyone is not assuming or demanding. Everything is very functional. Energy is always being put into exploring new ideas and change.”

Which is what makes their workdays so much more enjoyable. These ladies do all the behind scenes work for the department, making sure everything gets done that needs to be done whether we know about it or not. In fact, as a student or faculty member of the WRAC department you should have talked or worked with at least one of these ladies during your time with the department. If you haven’t yet, you should! They are always open and ready to help, which is why WRAC wanted to say thank you. Thank you ladies for everything you do for us and everything you do that we don’t even know about. Thank you.

A Seminar In Chicago

Michigan State University is offering a one-credit seminar in Chicago, Illinois this summer from May 11-14th called Chicago Arts & Nonprofit Career Exploration Trip. It is designed to provide students the opportunity to explore various professional fields in the arts and nonprofits, including museums, galleries, and theater. Students will get a behind-the-scenes look at arts organizations; explore various professions, tour facilities, and network with industry professionals.

For additional information and the link to the application.

Contact Victoria Morris Internship Developer, College of Arts & Letters at morrisvi@msu.edu with further questions.