On a lawn dotted with candlelights Tuesday night, a half dozen students huddled together a little bit closer than anyone else.
The group joined in the vigil for suicide victims to remember Linsey Norton, the friend they lost to suicide less than a year ago in Corbett Hall.
“It’s not like a car accident, where you can figure out exactly what happened,” said Ashley Ruder, a sophomore art major. “It haunts you for a long time. . I still think about it every day.”
Sometimes, she dwells on the night of Nov. 1, when Norton took her own life, throwing many other hall residents into despair.
“I heard the screams from Laura (Ryer, Norton’s roommate), who saw her first,” she said. “It’s a hopeless, helpless feeling.”
But as with others who spoke to the crowd of a few dozen somber students on the West Lawn, they had nicer memories – moments with their friends while they were still alive.
Nikia Davis, a freshman environmental engineering student, remembered middle school mischief with her friend, Louisa.
They’d chat in class, horseplay in the hallways, and, in a lab class, they’d set various objects on fire with a Bunsen burner.
Louisa, who was set to be valedictorian of her high school graduating class, committed suicide last December.
“I always cared,” Davis said. “And since I couldn’t show her then, I can show her now.”
Active Minds at CSU put on the event, aiming to help raise awareness and dissolve the stigma surrounding mental illnesses and suicide victims. The event, which ran just less than an hour, saw poetry, stories and reflections from some survivors of victims and of the disorder.
“Suicide is not about a bad person,” said Linda Gabel, a staff member for CSU Housing and Dining Services who lost her son. “It’s not about a bad parent. Get help. Seek help.”
Dr. Michael Daine, the newly appointed director of the University Counseling Center, said that depression is the most common psychological issue facing college students.
“Depression is absolutely the most easily treatable psychological issue,” he said. “We have the highest rate of success treating depression than any other mental disorder, especially at this (college) age.”
When asked what advice she’d offer students in residence halls, Ruder said it’s about just being there.
“Take advantage of open doors,” Ruder said. She said that’s one thing she wishes she could have done for Norton.
“I’d walk by and say ‘hi,'” she said. “But I wouldn’t go in.”
Staff writers Stephanie Gerlach and Brandon Lowrey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.