The devastating effects of suicide claim the lives of more than 34,000 people each year.
A hundred and one volunteer students will take a pledge of silence for the National Day of Silence Oct. 16 to bring suicide awareness to campus.
Junior Erik Muckey, vice president of the University of South Dakota chapter of Lost and Found, said the group is spearheading the event to help spread awareness.
“A hundred and one suicides are committed each day nationally, so this is a physical representation of what that is on campus,” Muckey said. “It is in this way that students can get a feel for what that looks like in their daily lives and how many people are lost each day.”
This is the organization’s first year participating and Muckey said he encourages anyone interested in the cause to partake Oct. 16. The group will be tabling in the Muenster University Center with further information.
“Since we have lost quite a few people on campus due to suicide over the years, it is very important to be aware of what is going on in people’s lives and the possible consequences,” Muckey said.
Junior DJ Smith, founder of the national Lost and Found organization, said he’s glad the local chapter of Lost and Found has continued to grow.
“I’m really excited that Lost and Found has made a presence on campus and is starting to get involved with other organizations and their activities,” Smith said. “It helps further get our message out there.”
Lost and Found’s goal is to help prevent suicide and depression in teens and young adults. The group holds meetings at 9 p.m. every Wednesday in Old Main.
“I am personally participating in Lost and Found’s Day of Silence because I have been affected by suicide like so many others, and it goes on everyday whether we are conscious of it or not,” sophomore Cheltzie Miller-Bailey, a member of Lost and Found, said. “It’s a great way to make people step back and realize how many people are lost daily and to make an effort to reach out to those that are hurting.”
Miller-Bailey is just one of the 101 students signed up to take a vow of silence, but even if students are not signed up and would like to take part, participation is still encouraged, Muckey said.
Although the thought of not being able to speak a single word for a whole day may seem a bit difficult for some, the knowledge of the awareness they are raising for such a crucial cause is enough for participants to take a step back and think of those who have been lost for a day, Miller-Bailey said.