Seventy-five TCU students gathered in the Campus Commons and lit candles representing hope for those who are struggling with thoughts of suicide.

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Frog Fountain was illuminated in candles of remembrance Thursday night for A Spark of Hope, a candlelight vigil held in honor of World Suicide Prevention Day.

TCU’s Religious and Spiritual Life teamed up with the Counseling and Mental Health Center to raise awareness and commemorate those who commit suicide each year.

More than 75 students gathered in the commons and wrote messages of hope in honor of the deceased and those who are struggling with suicidal thoughts.

“We wanted people to have a place to share where they’re hurting, to share their struggles, to remember people they might’ve lost to suicide, also for people to speak hope for others who are struggling,” said Rev. Allison Lanza, associate chaplain at TCU.

Students collectively wrote notes of hope in the final moments of the vigil.
Students wrote notes of hope in the final moments of the vigil.

 

This is the second year TCU’s campus observed A Spark of Hope.

“I wanted to do something special during National Suicide Prevention Week and I thought holding a candlelight vigil would be really neat,” said Cortney Gumbleton, suicide prevention outreach coordinator.

She said last year’s vigil went so well that they wanted to hold another this year as well.

“We weren’t quite sure what to expect,” Gumbleton said. “It was very powerful.”

Lanza said mental illness often goes undiscussed and can become a hidden illness. She said this event “is a way to say you are by far not the only one.”

In honor of National Suicide Prevention Week, 1,100 yellow flags were placed next to Frog Fountain to represent the 1,100 college students who die by suicide each year.

Gumbleton said she wanted a visual so students could see that this is real.

She added that while numbers matter, they are not the biggest source of comfort for students contemplating suicide.

“What really helps people is sharing stories of hope and recovery,” she said.

Austin DeVault, a sophomore double major in theater and film, shared his personal struggle and recovery with those in attendance.

“The reason I’m speaking today is to advocate love,” said DeVault. “[So people] become aware of suicide and know it can be prevented with love.”

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If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Hotline 1-800-723-TALK or schedule an appointment with the Counseling & Mental Health Center at 817-257-7863.