Messages of courage and inspiration were exchanged by students at Light the Night with Hope at the Friendship Walk, Nov. 20.
The event, which was formerly a vigil, has now evolved into a celebration and a remembrance for those who have died by suicide. It was hosted by Counseling and Psychological Services and Project OCEAN, a peer program within CAPS to educate suicide prevention and promote mental wellness.
Autumn Lewis, fourth-year public relations major and peer educator for Project Ocean, took to the microphone to uplift the crowd with positive quotes shared with Project OCEAN’s Instagram from students.
“Comparison is the thief of joy,” Lewis said. “Being happy doesn’t mean everything is perfect. It means you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.”
For Lewis, Project OCEAN is personal.
“Mental health has always been something that isn’t taken seriously within my family and within my community,” Lewis said. “Me being a peer educator is a great way for me to insert myself into that conversation and make it a bigger conversation. It’s OK not to be OK. It’s OK to talk to someone about not being OK. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health.”
At one station, students picked up square fabric to write their feelings on, which will later be sewn into a flag to be hung on campus. Kind messages were written on the front of paper bags that glowed from candles placed inside. Nearby, a light-up tree had words of encouragement written on its paper leaves.
Brenda Carranza, a third-year health science major, appreciated all the students who were in attendance to Light the Night with Hope.
“They’re pretty involved with this situation that is going on,” Carranza said.
Beach Balance, CAPS and CSULB’s Community Clinic were just some of the services present at the event to offer information to students in need of aid.
Another student, Angelica Juan-Tapia, a first-year pre-computer science major, attended the event after seeing fliers around campus.
“Mental health should be a priority for everyone,” Juan-Tapia said. “There’s a lot of good resources here on campus. A lot of students are probably afraid to go and use them and I think it’s really important that they should actually go to these resources instead of just waiting it out and hoping for the best. It’s better to get help than suffer in silence.”
Project OCEAN will be hosting another event, Live Your Life Day, in the spring semester.