Field of Memories raises awareness, emphasizes CMHS

From Sunday, Sept. 27 to Saturday, Oct. 3, the lawn in front of the Student Union was sprinkled with more than a 1,000 yellow flags. 

The annual Field of Memories event had begun and with it came the crashing reality that suicide is the second-leading cause of death among college students. Nearly 1,100 suicides are estimated annually on college campuses. The suicide rate for 15-24 year olds has increased by more than 200 percent in the last 50 years. One person under the age of 25 commits suicide within every two hours and 2.5 minutes.

These facts and more are found on the front page of UConn’s suicide prevention website. During the Field of Memories event, students are encouraged to personalize a flag for lost ones. The website hosts a gallery of pictures taken of these personalized flags as a memorial. 

Suicide often stems from a history of depression, low self-esteem, alienation, stress or hopelessness. College students experience various environmental stressors from a change of living, from academic concerns to social and cultural pressures. Cultural pressures can lead to alienation while academic and social can lead to fear of decreased performance. 

By bringing awareness to the issue as a community, we can help those who are not able to help themselves.  

UConn’s Counseling and Mental Health Services provides not only that awareness, but also the resources necessary for aiding someone in need. Their clinical services range from individual therapy to group counseling to psychiatric services. They provide consultations and screenings to assess for any areas that may potentially be emotionally or mentally harmful to students. 

Located in the Arjona building, this department houses a welcoming staff, but unfortunately, also carries a stigma. The idea of getting help with emotional and mental problems has always carried a negative connotation. It cannot be stressed enough that everyone goes through periods of mental exhaustion and emotional stress. College students are the most susceptible to this due to their environment and the culture that rises from the emersion into a bubble atmosphere where the mimicry to the real world is broken by different social rules as well as academic expectations. 

With the first wave of exams underway, and several more to come before finals week, it is imperative, now more than ever, to avoid exhaustion and burnout. It is important to remember that everyone has gone through these feelings and no judgment would be shed for simply asking for help. Mental health, physical health and emotional health are all connected. To ensure overall wellbeing, one must take care of all aspects.