'Field of Memories' aims to spread hope, commemorate those lost to suicide

In this photo, a flag is seen as part of the UConn Suicide Prevention Committee's "Field of Memories" display in front of the Student Union on Monday, Sept. 28, 2015. (Marissa DiBella/The Daily Campus)

As part of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, the University of Connecticut Suicide Prevention Committee organized the display of hundreds of flags in front of the Student Union called the “Field of Memories.”

More than 1,100 yellow flags stand to represent the number of students on college campuses lost each year to suicide across the United States.  Written on the flags are messages of hope and statements to those who have experienced or been affected by the loss of loved ones by suicide. 

According to the American Association of Sociology, 4,878 individuals between the age of 15 and 24 committed suicide in 2013. Overall, suicidal deaths have increased by 200 percent since the 1950s.  It is the second leading cause of death among college students according to suicideprevention.uconn.edu.

The flags display two messages on both sides. One reads, “Be aware, show you care,” the other is covered with handwritten personal messages are scrawled on the other side.

Messages such as, “Have hope, you are not alone” and “You are important, reach out” can be read on the flags.

Each message serves to show anyone walking by, whether they are a student heading to class or someone who is struggling with depression, that there is a world of people who are present and ready to help in difficult times. 

While those who commit suicide leave a tragic trace, survivors also struggle every day with guilt and anxiety.

Lifelineforattemptsurvivors.org wrote an article on the “Seven Things Attempt Survivors Wish Their Families and Friends Knew.”  The article reveals the difficulties surrounding the issue and provides context and insight into the thoughts and feelings of a survivor’s experience.  This article aims to inform people and ultimately help them support a loved one.

UConn also offers a Question, Persuade and Refer training, or QPR.  The goal of QPR training is to train students, parents and other community members on how recognize people in distress.  

The QPR training has “…provided 106 training sessions to a total of ~3000 individuals on the Storrs and Avery point campuses,” according to suicideprevention.uconn.edu  The training is conducted in a group format and a request for training may be sent to erin.cox@uconn.edu.

If anyone believes someone they know is in distress of any kind, they are encouraged to speak with a member of the Counseling and Mental Health services staff and may call 860-486-4705.

The UConn Suicide Prevention Committee is sponsoring events all week.  For further information about these events, visit suicideprevention.uconn.edu/events.


Matthew Gilbert is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at matthew.gilbert@uconn.edu.