CSUN community honors those lost with candlelight memorial

Mayra Escobedo

A panel on resources available to students on campus and a candlelight memorial was held Wednesday to remember those that have died by suicide and honor survivors of either depression or suicide as part of Beat the Blues Week.

Representatives from the University Counseling Services, CSUN Helpline, Pride Center, Veteran’s Resource Center, Resource Center, Peer Health Exchange and The Blues Project spoke to students about the resources that are available to them on campus.

“What better event than to inform people about the services on this campus and inviting folks that are working directly in suicide prevention,” said Vaheh Hartoonian, assistant coordinator of peer programs and co-facilitator for The Blues Project.

Konjit Page, from University Counseling Services, told students that they are there to help them in their time of need.

Jessica Lasater, from the CSUN Helpline, told students that the helpline takes calls ranging from computer problems to depression.

Lasater said that the top three calls they get are for suicide, loneliness and depression.

Sarina Loeb, coordinator for the Pride Center, spoke of the peer mentor program and said that it is not only available for LGBTQ students.

Monteigne Staats-Long, coordinator for the Veteran’s Resource Center, spoke to students about the peer mentor program and that one active duty service member commits suicide every day.

Rebecca Struch, from the Peer Health Exchange, told students of the program, which trains college students to go speak to high school students about different health issues ranging from sex education to preventative measures dealing mental health.

After the panel students gathered in front of the Oviatt Library holding flameless tealight candles as they listened to a poem by Elayne Woods, 20, junior interior design major and peer educator at The Blues Project.

Woods, who has dealt with depression and contemplated suicide, read a poem that described someone that acts as if everything is okay while they are thinking about suicide and eventually accepting the fact that being depressed does not mean they are a failure.

Following the poetry reading, a few words were said by Dr. Marshall Brown, the co-founder of The Blues Project, and Shelley Ruelas-Bischoff, associate vice-president for student life.

Students then took their candles and lined the wall of the Oviatt as Vocal Percussion Radio sang.

Thomas Moore, 19, sophomore English and political science double major, heard about the memorial from the Resilient Scholars Program, which aims to empower former foster youth.

“We lost one of our members (and) it really hits home,” said Moore. “We thought everything was fine so it hit us hard because everything seemed normal.”

Mayra Hernandez, 22, junior health care administration major, also attended the event because she knows someone that committed suicide.

“It hits close to home. I lost my brother to suicide,” said Hernandez. “It’s been a while but it still hurts.”

Hernandez said she thought the panel was great because there are a lot of people that need information.

“It was touching and a nice gesture,” she said about the candlelight memorial.