UA Student Hosts Event for Suicide Awareness, Prevention

For her honors project, Katie Hickman advocates for mental health issues.


123 chairs sit on Coleman Common. Each empty chair represents a life lost to suicide each day. (Photo courtesy of Ruthie Hawks)

By Brooklyn Dennison, Editor-in-Chief

Katie Hickman, a public relations and honors student at The University of Akron, hosted an event called “Stand Up to Suicide” outside Coleman Common on Sept. 26, from 11-1 p.m.

The event had a display of 123 empty chairs to symbolize the 123 lives lost to suicide every day, Hickman said. The event also included suicide prevention handouts, Crisis Text Line Giveaways and the opportunity for students to voice why they stand up to suicide.

(Photo courtesy of Katie Hickman)

Hickman said she chose to host this event as her honors project because of her passion for mental health: specifically mental health advocacy due to her own personal experiences.

“Depression, anxiety and suicide ideation are all part of my story; I’ve needed people to fight for me when I couldn’t fight for myself,” Hickman said. “Now that I’m walking in recovery and healing, I’m devoted to doing that for others.”

During the planning process for the event, Hickman said she lost a close friend and neighbor and ultimately contributed to the need for the event. She said suicide statistics are no longer numbers, but a close to home realty for the community.

Hickman has several goals she hopes to have achieved by hosting the event. The first is to inform students of the facts around young adult suicide. One fact she said, which comes from the College Degree Search, is that 1,100 college students take their lives every year.

The second is to increase students’ access to suicide prevention resources. The agenda for “Stand Up to Suicide” highlighted team members from the UA Counseling & Testing Center and the County of Summit Alcohol Drug Addiction and Mental Health Board to provide people with resources.

Lastly, the third goal was to empower students to stand up against suicide. Students were encouraged to write out why they stand up against suicide and tape it to the chairs, the agenda said.

“As the rates continue to increase, a suicide crisis is in our midst. But suicide is preventable,” Hickman said.

“Between education and advocacy, confidence arises. Confidence to get help. To share with a friend. To ask someone how they’re really doing. To stand up for those who are hurting.”

Hickman said “Stand Up to Suicide” would be a success if every student walked away with suicide prevention resources and empowerment to have the tough conversations about mental health.