By Anna Grace Usery
The University Counseling Center and Rebels for Suicide Prevention are partnering together to hold a candlelight vigil Thursday, Nov. 15 to remember friends and loved ones lost to suicide.
About 800,000 people die by suicide each year, making it one of the world’s leading causes of death, the World Health Organization reports. Suicide is the 12th leading cause of all deaths in the state of Mississippi, and the 3rd leading cause of death among people from the ages 15 to 24 in Mississippi, according to the Mississippi Suicide Prevention Plan.
“I myself am a suicide attempt survivor,” said Elizabeth Long, founder of Rebels for Suicide Prevention. “I attempted in October of 2013, my junior year of high school. I am a huge advocate for ending the stigmas around mental health and, in my opinion, the best way to do that is through sharing your story.”
During the 30 minute long ceremony, the community will come together and support one another while remembering those lost to suicide and those who have struggled with suicidal ideation and attempts. Each attendee will receive a candle to light and hold.
“We will also have a memory board for anyone who would like to bring a picture to honor their loved ones,” Long said. “The event will be a shorter one, but I think it is important to remember those who we have lost to suicide.”
Rebels for Suicide Prevention, founded in October of 2018, now has more than 100 members who have all been affected by suicide or mental health issues in some way.
“The role of the organization is not to provide treatment or medical advice, but to help break the stigma and encourage people to start a conversation and reach out for help,” she said.
Long said she encourages those who know others battling with suicide to stop and listen.
“Bringing up the topic of suicide does not put the idea in their head but instead offers an opportunity to talk about it,” she said. “If you are afraid the person many get mad at you for telling someone who can help, still do it. Relationships can be fixed, but lives cannot be brought back once they are gone.”
The event will be held at the Circle on the Ole Miss campus at 6:30 p.m. Oxford and campus communities are encouraged to join.