Several yellow signs have popped up around campus and on social media sporting uplifting messages like “Love yourself,” “You got this” and “You are strong.” These signs are part of the #KindneSSSproject, an initiative that sprouted from Student Support Services (SSS).
The idea was initially coined by Summer Spaderna, an SSS counselor and member of the Suicide Prevention Committee. According to Spaderna, she thought that posting signs with uplifting messages around campus would be a good way to provide encouragement and spread words of kindness and hope.
“This is especially important during these difficult and uncertain times, when so many of us are feeling isolated and alone due to COVID,” Kimberly Gorman, the director at SSS, said. “Our UConn SSS students embraced the initiative. Not only are there signs all over campus, the #KindneSSSproject and #UConnSuicidePrevention are flooding social media. This is important so that students who are living at home or who are under quarantine on campus can gain awareness and be part of receiving and spreading the kindness. We truly are all in this together, one UConn Nation, regardless of where we live and what campus we attend.”
Photos of students holding up #KindneSSSproject signs were first posted on the @UConnStudentHealth Instagram, and more appeared on the @UConnSSS Instagram. Since then, the official UConn Instagram account and Officer Tildy have made posts about the initiative, showcasing the distinct yellow signs in support of Suicide Prevention Week.
“We wanted people to know that they deserve to be here and that they have so many supporters by their side,” Anaelle Benjamin, a third-semester physiological sciences major and student involved in putting up posters and spreading word about the initiative, said. “There are many people who are going through difficult times and are having trouble with handling what they’re going through and having these signs posted around can make a difference in their day, which is why I’m really happy to see how quickly the #KindneSSSproject is spreading around.”
Students can get involved by grabbing a sign from the SSS office in room 231 of the Rowe Building, or they can print out their own sign online. The link to the sign can be found in the Instagram bio of @UConnSSS. Students can post signs in designated spots on campus, such as bulletin boards in offices, classroom buildings or in the windows of dorm rooms. Students can also take a picture with the sign and post it on social media with the hashtags #KindneSSSproject and #UConnSuicidePrevention.
“I feel that this is important because we are going through unprecedented times and life isn’t as we knew it – it’s easy to get down, depressed, stressed and [feel] alone,” Spaderna said.
Suicide Prevention Week 2020 takes place from Sept. 19 to Sept. 26, with events spanning the whole week. On Sept. 26 from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., there will be a Rainbow Hike at Horsebarn Hill for students to partake in.
“Suicide is a real issue that many people contemplate at a point in their life and just one positive message in someone’s day can be the difference between them still being with us or not the next day,” Julie LaPrade, a first-semester human development and family studies major who volunteered to put up signs for the initiative, said. “Even just a smile you give to a person can save their life!”