Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 18 to 24, according to Cal State Long Beach’s Counseling and Psychological Services.
That’s why dozens of booths filled the Speakers Platform Tuesday as the On-Campus Emergency Assistance Network hosted Live Your Life Day, an event which offered free food, massages and emotional support dogs to help students mitigate stress.
The annual event is in its eighth year and offered students the opportunity to students the chance to learn about Project OCEAN, an on-campus emergency assistance network.
Computer science senior Meghan Stewart said she appreciated the stress management techniques provided, praising the help these exercises have given her in the past.
“It’s really cool, because I went to CAPS my second year and it was really helpful,” Stewart said. “I like that they make this event to kind of advertise it to students who may not know about it.”
Danny Alderete, an undergraduate peer advocate with Project OCEAN, said the group’s goal is to spread awareness of mental health issues on college campuses.
Its goal is to provide suicide prevention options on and off campus, such as the On-Call Crisis Counselor, who offer over-the-phone assistance after hours.
The soothing sounds of island music set the tone for a myriad of de-stressing activities. Traditional Hawaiian music was performed by Kahakai Loa, a local Long Beach band. Students could be seen hanging out in hammocks, coming in and out of a photo booth and playing a variety of games.
“A really good booth for our students to check out is Breathing with Bubbles, which is a way to destress by teaching you how to breathe deeply, because when we’re under stress our breathing is usually tight, and we’re not breathing in all the way,” Alderete said.
The event also provided arts and crafts, touch stones and letter writing, all with lessons on how to better manage stress levels. The program’s website stated that they plan to focus on students’ overall wellness, whether that be emotional, physical, social or spiritual well-being.
“I made a beeline straight for the dogs because I love having dogs on campus,” said Britney Weller, a senior communication studies major. “They’re very comforting, and I just came from a really stressful class, so to be able to sit here and pet the dogs is nice.”
Alex Algaron, a senior majoring in psychology said that he chose to volunteer with the program because he believes that mental health awareness among students is essential to student wellness.
“I think it’s really important to talk about, and sometimes students are scared to speak up for whatever reason,” Algaron said. “I think it’s really important to spread awareness in a positive way.”
The campus counseling services staff urges students who want to use these free resources to call CAPS or come to their office in Brotman Hall 226.