Central Michigan University students gathered for an emotional candlelight vigil yesterday evening in remembrance of those who have either committed suicide or continue to struggle with the issue.
Held in the grassy area just west of the Charles V. Park Library, the vigil was the last event planned for Suicide Prevention Week.
Pinconning senior and Yellow Ribbon President Lauren Rabish said the annual candlelight vigil is one of the most important events the registered student organizations holds each year.
“This is our third annual event and it’s one of the most powerful,” Rabish said. “It’s very emotional and those who come are here to heal — it’s a place where people can come to reflect, feel and think.”
The area next to the Park Library became a place of prayer and remembrance for those who attended, as each person was offered an opportunity to speak the name of a loved one they lost to suicide.
“A couple of my friends have attempted suicide,” Owosso freshman Abby Elbing said. “I think events like this are important because it lets people know that they aren’t alone.”
Others who attended the vigil have had similar experiences and came to show their support for friends, one of them being Saginaw junior Dan Ahrens.
“Awareness and prevention about this issue is really important because suicide is never the answer,” he said. “I’ve had a couple of friends from back home who have contemplated suicide, so I came to show my support.”
Frank Kuo was among two representatives from the CMU Counseling Center who attended the vigil to talk with students who were struggling.
“I think it’s important to bring together students who have had similar experiences because it helps the grieving process, which can be especially difficult when the anniversary of the suicide approaches,” Kao said. “Events like this also promote awareness about depression, which is the number one cause of suicide.”
Yellow Ribbon faculty adviser Dave Opalewski said he was impressed and pleased with the turnout at not only the vigil, but all of the Suicide Prevention Week events.
“I think the vigil tonight went very well because it was very therapeutic for students who came,” he said. “Events like this show them that we care – I even received a hug from a student I had never met.”