The warm wind swept through the rows of 1,100 small flags planted in the ground at the University of Houston-Victoria on Tuesday morning.
The flags are a part of the 1,100 Flags memorial to help bring awareness of suicide prevention. Each year, 1,100 college students die by suicide, said Chanel Hicks, UHV health educator.
“It’s one thing to say the number. It’s another to see it, even if it’s flags,” Hicks said.
The 1,100 Flags memorial. located between University West and University North buildings, serves as a kick-off of weeklong events at the campus beginning Sept. 9, Hicks said. The event is called “End the Stigma” and focuses on mental health awareness and suicide prevention. The month of September is also suicide awareness month.
The university has done different memorials in the past, Hicks said, such as placing empty chairs on campus. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly 24,000 college students between the ages of 18-24 attempt suicide.
This is the first year the campus will offer a week of events about mental health and suicide prevention, she said.
“When you say the word ‘suicide’ people don’t want to talk about it still, and we should be able to talk about mental health and prevent suicide,” Hicks said.
Freshman Cyan Woods, 18, said she is glad the university is being proactive about talking to students about mental health. Woods is originally from Houston and is studying health.
Woods said she believes having both counseling services and student-peer groups is beneficial for students who need counseling services.
“I feel like it’s good to talk about these topics, and to let other students know its OK to reach out to someone to talk to someone,” Woods said.
Events include a discussion and flag decoration event on Monday; a World Suicide Prevention Day panel discussion from 6-7:30 p.m. on Sept. 10 at Walker Auditorium; student training on Sept. 11; a student-led discussion called “Keepin’ It Real” from 6:30-8 p.m. on Sept. 12; and a screening of “The Ripple Effect” from 3-5 p.m. on Sept. 13 at University North.
Community partners, such as Gulf Bend Center and Bellas Awareness Project, will also take part in the activities, Hicks said.
Though the weeklong events are geared toward UHV students, members of the public are also welcome to attend the events, she said.
Jose Pinedo, a freshman studying kinesiology at UHV, said he hopes that students will go to the events to learn more about mental health services.
“I feel like it’s good to have someone to talk to and to let those who need help know that they’re not alone,” Pinedo, 18, said.