By Jermaine Rowley
For The Diamondback
University of Maryland's Kappa Lambda Xi hosted an event Tuesday about suicide awareness and the warning signs leading up to suicide.
The multicultural sorority hosted "Enlighten: Lighting the Path to Suicide Awareness and Prevention," in efforts to discuss topics such as bullying and suicide.
The event began with two spoken-word pieces expressing the feelings of hopelessness that can lead to suicide. Students also viewed a video depicting the effects of suicide on a college community, using Emory University as an example.
"We hope students become more aware as well as more conscious about things that go on campus and to kind of not be afraid to speak about things that are normally sort of taboo to speak of in public," said senior Ivana Olivares, a civil engineering major.
Olivares, who is a member of Kappa Lambda Xi, also said she hopes students learn from this event and become more aware of the signs that someone may be considering suicide.
The group went over potential warning signs of individuals at risk for harming themselves, such as no longer attending class or eating, change in sleep patterns or a sense of hopelessness, said Tammi Ginsberg, who works with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
"The most important thing is to ask yourself, 'What is my intention?' My intention is to save this person's life and I care about them and I am worried," Ginsberg said.
During the discussion, several panelists — including Janel Cubbage, the director of suicide prevention for the state's health department, and Linda Diaz, who works with the state's chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention — also compared mental health to physical health. Both agreed suicide cannot be attributed to a single factor.
"There isn't one thing that is going to end suicide. It's going to be a multitude of conventions," Cubbage said.
Attendees also had the opportunity to pose questions to the panelists, and the discussion shifted to the effects of social media. Lucy Murray, an alumna of this university who attended the event, asked about the influence of these platforms on bullying.
Cubbage answered by informing the audience of features on certain social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, which allow users to report concerning posts.
The American Association of Suicidology, a nonprofit devoted to suicide prevention, is pushing for Facebook, Google and other platforms to "really step up what they're capable of," said Colleen Creighton, the organization's executive director.
Murray also said she enjoyed the event, as she said it was helpful to "hear the perspectives from a couple of different organizations," as well as learn more about "alternative means" of seeking mental help.
The importance of mental health is amplified, said senior Shelby Pittman, a criminology and criminal justice major. Pittman is a member of Kappa Lambda Xi.
"There are instances where people don't feel like they have somewhere to turn to, and because of that they may end up harming themselves and others," Pittman said. "We just want to have a safe space — like, 'Hey, there's other people here that struggle just like you, and we're here to support you.'"