Alcorn students join ASU-SPARK for Suicide Prevention Awareness Programs

In observance of the Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, the ASU-Spark Program and a team of students spearheaded various events, according to Dr. Martha Ravola, assistant vice president for Academic Program Support and Graduate Studies and ASU-SPARK director.

A movie night was organized on September 24 by O’Neil Jones, a sophomore music major, at the student residence hall (Complex B). The students watched “The Soloist” movie, and Abegayle Goldblatt, retention specialist/ASU-SPARK Taskforce member, led the discussion as the participants engaged in a word association activity highlighting suicide prevention.

“We felt a movie was a great tool to mobilize students to think about the psychological and emotional effects that can materialize in everyday relations,” Jones said.

Goldblatt added, “This movie was a perfect choice for students to see how they can intervene and be a friend to someone who has been diagnosed with a mental illness.”

Speech and Drama instructor Beau Foutz organized his acting class to create skits and hold performances on campus to help raise awareness.

“It was an honor that Dr. Ravola approached us,” Foutz said. “We are always looking for ways to apply our education beyond the class and to the community at large.”

Audrey Martin, a senior majoring in psychology, who assisted Foutz to form Alcorn’s first acting club, The Renaissance Players, now serves as the club’s president. She shared, “I enjoyed performing in suicide awareness skits because of their importance. Statistically, over 1,000 college students commit suicide each year.”

Another important event, “Dealing with Emotional Distress,” was organized by the Resident Assistants Danielle Watson, music major; Tiara Steward, child development major; Aniki Watt, biology-health science major; and Jocelyn Dee, sociology major. Ravola, addressed the participants dealing with emotional distress. The ASU-SPARK team also distributed psycho-educational materials on mental health and services.

I learned from this program that being healthy is not just a physical thing, it could be mental or emotional,” Watson said. “We have to be mindful of those types of wellbeing.”

Watt agreed with her and added, “By participating in this program I learned how to talk to people that might have suicide thoughts. I now know what to tell them and to hopefully help them.”

“What I took away from the program,” shared Dee. “It’s important to be aware of your surroundings and make sure that everyone around you is healthy – mentally, physically, emotionally, as well as spiritually."

Stewart agreed with her and added, “I learned about the ways to help my peers, how to deal with stress, and the three main stresses for athletes, which are school, self, and sports.”

The ASU-SPARK team members who also participated in the program were JaKia Gilbert, mass communications major, Garry Armor, psychology major, and Nischay Rawal, business major.

The event definitely sparked an interest in the student community and promoted wellness at Alcorn. “A student who feels connected is one that will stay in school,” Ravola concluded.