California State University, Long Beach
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Candlelight Vigil To Raise Awareness About Suicide

Published: October 1, 2013

Nineteen universities throughout California will join together on Tuesday, Oct. 1, to host a candlelight vigil to raise awareness around a heavily stigmatized topic—college student suicide—which is the second leading cause of death among this age group.

Approximately 1,100 college students die each year by suicide and many more think about it, especially when feeling depressed. The candlelight vigil will offer campus communities an opportunity to show unity and give hope to those who may be struggling through a hard time and susceptible to depression or suicidal thoughts.

The CSULB event will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. near the Maxson Plaza fountain in front of Brotman Hall. Participants will be provided with a candle to turn an ordinary paper bag into an extraordinary luminaria and have the opportunity to write a message or decorate bags to remember someone affected by suicide.

First hosted by San Jose State University last fall, more institutions are involved this year.

“This will be the first time that 19 colleges and universities statewide will host an event at the same time on the same day to raise awareness about suicide among college students, thanks to Dr. Wei-Chien Lee at San Jose State who coordinated this effort,” said Jennifer Young, a psychologist and Project OCEAN coordinator in the campus’ Counseling and Psychological Services office.

“This is a wonderful way to unite our campus communities in California and convey our message that there is help and hope for people who are struggling,” she added. “Project OCEAN at CSULB wants our support to be visible. We hope that this will be a meaningful and helpful experience for our campus.”

Along with CSULB, participating universities include CSU Bakersfield, CSU Channel Islands, CSU Dominguez Hills, CSU East Bay, Fresno State, CSU Fullerton, CSU Northridge, Cal Poly Pomona, Sacramento State, CSU San Bernardino, CSU San Bernardino/Palm Desert campus, San Diego State, San Jose State, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, CSU San Marcos, CSU Stanislaus, San Francisco State and UCLA.

The campuses are grantees of the California Mental Health Services Act (CalMHSA), Prop 63. It is one of several Prevention and Early Intervention initiatives implemented by CalMHSA, an organization of county governments working to improve mental health outcomes for individuals, families and communities. CalMHSA operates services and education programs on a statewide, regional and local basis.

The candlelight vigil on campus will be hosted by CSULB’s Project OCEAN, which was established in September 2008 and funded by a three-year federal grant with the mission of encouraging help seeking behaviors and suicide prevention. Project OCEAN returned to CSULB last fall supported by the CalMHSA grant. Project OCEAN activities are designed to expand the safety net for students vulnerable to suicidal ideation and mental illness.

For more information about Project OCEAN, visit www.csulb.edu/ocean.