Manchester University
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March 8, 2019


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MU Challenges Students to take Active Roles in Suicide Prevention

Kaleigh Gabriel


The audience of Cordier Auditorium sat in lingering silence late Tuesday, Feb. 26, following the conclusion of the documentary film “Suicide: The Ripple Effect.” Students had just listened to Kevin Hines, the subject of the film, recount and relive the story of how he survived his jump off the Golden Gate Bridge in 2000, when he was 19.

This VIA on the outreach for suicide awareness is part of a program designed by the education and athletic departments. Throughout the next few weeks, the two departments will host small events to help educate students on suicide awareness and prevention.

After the conclusion of the movie, a panel was held for students to get a better grasp on information, guided by Abby Van Vlerah, the vice president of Student Affairs at Manchester University. Panelist included Alice Jordan-Mills, the director of Indiana Suicide Coalition, Connie Kerrigan, the director for Community Outreach at Parkview Behavioral Center and Jason Cussen, the director of the Wabash Bowen Center.

“Suicide is most common in teens and young adults, specifically those of college age,” said speaker Jordan-Mills, who is also professor of the Purdue University Fort Wayne Behavior Health & Family Studies Institute. “On average, there is a suicide every 11 minutes in the world, meaning that seven people could die during the course of this movie.”

Audience members were shocked by the striking facts of death that accompanied this movie. “Obviously today we know how mental issues can be a cause of death, but I don’t think we are aware of the immense threat it poses by suicide,” said first-year Estefania Mesta. “While it is scary, I think it is good that we have been made to notice the problem. This video really made me take notice of the signs and warnings.”

The film notes that Hines had been diagnosed as bipolar and constantly struggled with his ‘mental pain’ as he called it. “I was constantly thinking everyone is out to get [me] and everything would hurt [me],” says Hines in the video as to why he jumped. “I didn’t think anyone cared and I didn’t ask.”

Throughout the film, Hines is pictured not only visiting family and friends who were affected by his jump, but also the first responders who met him on that fateful day. One focus was that of a Coast Guard officer who had been on the job ten years and had seen countless jumpers. However, Kevin Hines was the only survivor he ever pulled out. “Suicide touches everyone remotely close somehow and some way,” said Hines in the video. “It is our duty to help prevent others from feeling this is their only option.”

One of the main focuses of the panel was to show students that the stigma against suicide should not matter. “We need to take the public shame and isolation away from going public with your pain and helping ourselves,” Cussen said. “Suicide is such a stigmatized topic that we avoid conversations about, but sometimes talking is what can help the most.”

Another focus of the panel was to make students aware of the conversation and how to ask about fellow friends. “Asking the question is the simplest way to start the conversation,” Kerrigan said. “There’s a feeling conveyed by asking that lets people know that someone, anyone, cares about them. There are classes and practice discussions that can be taught to help students become more alert and better prepared to discuss the problems of suicide with peers.”

Any student can reach  Manchester Counseling Services for an appointment by calling 260-982-5306. is another resource: anyone can text LOOKUP to 494949 or call 800-284-8439.

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline phone number is 800-273-8255.