Candlelight Vigil Candles

Gabrielle Heffernan, a sophomore studying Nutrition, holds a candle at the Suicide Prevention Vigil on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019. A moment of silence was held on Harris Field to bring awareness to the ever growing suicide epidemic across the globe.

To honor World Suicide Prevention Day, the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) On Campus held its Annual Candlelight Vigil Sept. 10 in front of Witherspoon Student Center in remembrance of those who have been lost to suicide. The vigil was scheduled from 6:30-10 p.m. At the event, there were representatives from the GLBT Center, Multicultural Student Affairs and NAMI On Campus.

The event was sponsored by the Counseling Center and Prevention Services at NC State as well as NAMI On Campus. There were counselors provided by the Counseling Center and therapy dogs at the event. A video and booths were also set up with various handouts and information on ways to seek help. 

Raleigh mayoral candidate and NC State alum Zainab Baloch spoke to the crowd and expressed her gratitude toward the NC State Counseling Center for helping her throughout her time at school. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, suicide is the second-leading cause of death for the ages of 15-24. Baloch encouraged students to seek help if they are feeling down.

“One of the biggest things that’s helped me is every morning, I write down 10 things I’m grateful for, and just starting my day like that has been helpful,” Baloch said. “I really encourage you guys … if you need help, reach out.”

Baloch also encouraged the audience members to pay attention to other’s wellbeing. She asked the crowd to ask others if they are okay and to check up on each other, and even said students can direct message her on Instagram if they are dealing with a mental health crisis.

About 100 students and faculty showed up for the lighting of the candles, and a moment of silence was held for those lost and those struggling with mental illness. Afterwards, an open mic was held so the members of the audience could share their own stories.

Kendall Kram, a third-year studying psychology, said she felt compelled to come this year because of how impactful it was last year. 

“I came out sophomore year, and it was really moving and I really loved it, so I figured I should come and see it again,” Kram said. 

This is NAMI On Campus’s ninth Annual Candlelight Vigil, and it continues to provide awareness and comfort.

According to Sindhoor Ambati, a fourth-year studying psychology and English and co-president of NAMI On Campus, said the event was held for many reasons, most important of which was to act as a day of remembrance and solidarity for the community of NC State to come together and talk about an issue that is not often spoken about.

“It’s really an event that tries to focus on bringing the community together and making the community a little bit more aware of the struggles a student right next to them might be going through,” Ambati said.