Lanterns and Lyrics Event
“You are loved, you are worthy of life and there is always someone available and ready to listen or help, all you need to do is ask.”- Amanda Michael
Jason Chapman, Staff Writer
There was a swift breeze in the air as the sky was turning a bright orange just like a burning flame. A setting sun was in plain view but the fire for the opening up of a conversation that is seldom spoken aloud was just getting started.
Students gathered on the front steps of the Student Union for the Active Minds Lanterns & Lyrics event that brought the conversation of suicide to campus. The event was part of National Suicide Prevention Week.
Students who attended this event made it their mission to end the stigma and taboo surrounding the topic of suicide. There were students present that wanted to hear people who were just like them talk and tell them of their experiences with depression, suicide and the loss of self care.
Zariah Robinson, a Marine Biology major, said on the topic of how she feels about the event, “I come every year, it’s very important to me. It makes you feel closer to everyone else when you come out here and helps you realize that people go through the same things you do.”
The President of Active Minds Kera Molton started off explaining the purpose of the event, “The basis of Lanterns & Lyrics is to have different kinds of performances ranging from singing or poetry or rap or just speaking about experiences you’ve had with suicide or mental health.”
Mental health on college campuses and around the country is a big problem.
“We’re trying to call attention to suicide and mental health and get it talked about on campus. This isn’t something that’s normally talked about. So we’re just trying to be that club that’s out there trying to get the word spread, get the knowledge out there for people that may not know,” said Molton.
Active Minds is an organization on campus that is trying to crush the stigmatization of the conversation about mental health. Much of what you see about mental health in today’s world is often times misportrayed or not spoken aloud in daily life at all. This event and the people who started it were looking to bring these issues to light.
“Our mission is to educate to advocate and to spread knowledge to those who may not know something,” said Molton.
Many people suffer from mental disorders on college campuses. The pressure and need to succeed can ruin a student’s psyche and mind state. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], “There is one death by suicide every 11 minutes in the United States.”
After her opening statements Molton went on to introduce the guest speaker Amanda Michael to the audience.
Michael got up in front of the audience and shared a story. The story revolved around a man with whom she fell in love with and soon married. Tears began to well up in Michael’s eyes as she revealed more of her experience.
Michael and her husband bought a house, got a dog.
“He was handsome and kind, sweet and generous. He was tall and broad. With the most beautiful hands I’ve ever seen. He was romantic and surprised me often with flowers, cards, bubble baths and always held my hand when we were out to dinner or shopping,” said Michael.
“In him I knew that I had found the person I would happily spend the rest of my life with.”
Michael took a deep breath before moving on with her story. “July 7 of 2018 would be the very last day we would eat a meal together with our dog. The last time that I kissed my husband goodnight and slept next to him in our bed. The last day we told each other we loved one another.”
The next morning Michael took a drive to clear her head after she and her husband had gotten into an argument. When she walked back into the house after her short drive Michael realized something was terribly wrong. “All the fire alarms were going off and the dog was going crazy. The house smelled as if someone had burned an entire set of tires in my front room,” Michael told the silent audience.
Michael went into the garage and found her husband on the floor facedown in the dark. He had cranked up the car and let the engine run while he was inside. The carbon monoxide from the car’s exhaust filled the room and began poisoning Michael’s husband. Not even a minute had passed when Matt turned the car off and tried to get out before it was too late.
The Detective who came to the scene told Michael, “That he had tried to change his outcome.”
She went on to tell the audience the problems Matt had faced, “Matt had been on workers [compensation] injury and surgery for several months and had become situationally depressed. He was started on a very mild anti-depressant that had recently been increased. He had always been a depressive person with a lot of anxiety. This was not to say that he was always depressed nor was he always anxious.”
Depression and anxiety attacks the mind in many different ways. Whether it is filling us with a fear of the unknown, the deepest despair imaginable or just causing everyday life to seem like the most impossible chore.
Knowing and discussing these issues can help all of us who are struggling with them. Revealing our innermost troubles to a caring ear every now and then can open us up and relieve some of the pressure.
Michael struggles everyday without Matt by her side. Since his death she has been raising awareness of the threat of suicide. She has been a catalyst for conversation that is rarely had.
Michael ended her story with words of encouragement, “You are loved, you are worthy of life and there is always someone available and ready to listen or help, all you need to do is ask.”
Soon after this story a series of poems and songs from students were presented to the audience. The poems had a message of being lifted up and out of the dark places we go to when we don’t feel so well.
Delilah Drummond, a Biology major, gave a moving performance of Ariana Grande’s song “breathin.”
Allie Strausel gave a poem about how each of us is our own universe with black holes and supernovas crescendoing up and down, all around, ever changing and never staying the same.
If you or a friend needs someone to talk to, the Suicide Prevention Hotline is on the back of everyone’s Eagle ID’s