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Butterflies of Brandywine 

By: Najla King, The Lion’s Eye Staff Writer, nxk5136@psu.edu

Over the course of three days, September 6-8, the students at Brandywine came together to consider suicide prevention. During common hour in the campus Lion’s Den, students, staff and outside guests gathered to share stories and resources.

In Pennsylvania, suicide is the second leading cause of death for people aged 15-34. High school, through college, into early adulthood is the range in which those are most affected.
There is no single cause to suicide, however, it most often occurs when the daily stressors of life exceed a person’s current coping abilities. They may also be suffering from a mental health condition, like depression.

Before the festivities began, supporters had the opportunity to post a personal message to those struggling on one large poster board. The title was, What would you say to someone who is struggling?

Messages covered the board with inspirational quotes like, “just keep swimming,” “things will get better,” “keep moving forward,”. . . the list goes on.

Ayesha Smith, a senior human development and family studies (HDFS) major at Brandywine reflected on the importance of suicide awareness.

“I think it’s great that we’re having suicide awareness here at school because let’s be honest, school is hard and it adds a lot of pressure to students. Some people just don’t know how to handle the stress that they may feel from their parents to succeed, from their job and from the pressure we put on ourselves to stay in school and actually be something after we graduate,” she said.

On the last day of events, students gathered in the Lion’s Den to watch a film on suicide awareness. They also got a chance to listen to their peers and an outside guest speak on their experience and knowledge on the subject.

At the end of the day, the group relocated outside and released several butterflies representing peace, freedom and hope.

Launa Andrews, a senior at Brandywine was one among the group during the butterfly release.

“I love the idea of releasing butterflies. To me it’s like a sigh of relief for people struggling and it’s a symbolic way of taking all the built up stress we may feel and simply letting it go and moving on…it felt good even for someone who isn’t struggling as deeply,” she said.

Students left the event with more than just the number to a hotline, and as suicide prevention week came to a close, the hearts of students remained open to those in need.

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