Sigma Pi fraternity is hosting its first Suicide Awareness Week from Feb. 9 – 13. The week reflects the goals of the fraternity’s national philanthropy, the Amazing Day Foundation, which stresses the importance of suicide and mental illness awareness among college students.
One of the most notable events is a presentation in Chumash Auditorium on Wednesday by Transitions-Mental Health Association. This will include a Suicide Hotline skit demonstrating a call to the hotline, and several speakers from the association, including a suicide attempt survivor.
That night, Sigma Pi will hold a candlelight memorial in the Julian A. McPhee University Union (UU) Plaza to honor the lives lost to suicide on college campuses nationwide. The candles will represent the number of students who have died each year from suicide, which is more than 1,100.
On Saturday, the fraternity will be hosting its “Swing Away for Amazing Day” home run derby. Proceeds from the ticket sales will go to the Amazing Day Foundation. To encourage campus organizations to participate, the organization with the largest attendance will get $250 to donate to a charity of its choice.
Other events throughout the week include stress tests on Dexter Lawn on Tuesday, greek training on how to support people struggling with mental health on Thursday and counseling services staff appreciation on Friday.
Biomedical engineering junior and Suicide Awareness Week Coordinator Conor Hedigan said that in the past, Sigma Pi has had smaller suicide awareness events, but this year the fraternity is trying to set the foundation for larger productions.
“It’s a really tricky topic to take on,” Hedigan said. “People feel uncomfortable talking about mental health. But it’s something people need to start thinking about. Just because you can’t always see it and it’s harder to diagnose doesn’t mean there’s not real issues.”
Business administration junior and president of Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) fraternity CJ Estores said many TKE members are planning on attending the events throughout the week in honor of Aaron Wolf, a brother they recently lost to suicide.
“I don’t think people understand the gravity of mental health, that it’s as deadly as other diseases,” Estores said. “It can ruin a lot of great things if it’s not taken care of.”
Hedigan said he is a little nervous that people won’t want to participate in some events because mental health can be an uncomfortable topic to discuss, but is optimistic there will be a big turnout.
“We just hope we’re making it as friendly and inviting as possible,” Hedigan said.