A hard heart would be required not to become emotional Thursday night as Victoria Taylor, a Senior Psychology major at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, captured the audience’s heart as she relayed the riveting story of her father’s death by suicide.
“A Lifeline of Hope: Lessons Learned in Surviving Grief and Loss” was a program sponsored by the A-State Counseling Center, and co-sponsored by the Dr. Robert E. Elliot Foundation for Suicide Prevention based out of Searcy. The main aspect of the program happened Thursday night in the Student Union to honor the SOS (Survivors of Suicide) Journey during A-State’s Suicide Prevention Week.
“I’m ok to talk about it now. It doesn’t make me angry anymore,” Taylor said.
This was Taylor’s first time publicly speaking about the death of her father, Anthony M. Taylor. Her nervousness and sadness were quietly revealed with every hesitation or deep breath she took.
Taylor spoke on her father’s mental illness and depression and also addressed that the anger she felt came from the thought of how selfish her father must have been to leave her and her mother all alone.
“It took me about eight years to get rid of the hate and anger, to realize that in his eyes, there was no other way and it was not an act of selfishness,” Traylor said, “I have come to realize that mental illness is truly a silent killer.”
Jordan Shelton, a junior exercise science major of Monticello, attended the event Thursday night and walked away with the idea that, “You really can’t take life for granted.”
For Sheldon, having known people personally who had committed suicide, the event really hit home.”(Suicide) is not selfish, but a sense of someone who is tired of everything that is going on,” Shelton said.
Brittney Casey, a freshman animal science major of Jonesboro, also attended the event.
“It is not selfish, but a mental illness where they no longer have control,” Casey said.
Both students, like Taylor, left with a better understanding of the psychology of suicide and the importance of not judging those who have committed or attempted suicide because “you truly never know what that person is going through nor how serious their ‘sickness’ is,” Taylor said.
Pat Glascock, host of the event and Associate Director of the A-State Counseling Center, said she hoped students would leave the event and be able to better view mental illness with less stigma.
“(Students need) to be able to recognize the basic signs of mental illness especially depression, and to view suicide less as an act of selfishness but instead as an act of desperation,” Glascock said.
The A-State Counseling Center is open to any student, free of charge, Monday-Thursday, noon to 3 p.m., and Friday, 9 a.m. to noon. It is a walk-in system and Pat Glascock hopes that students who are suffering mental illness, or knows someone who is, will be more encouraged come in and sit down with one of the counselors so they can help. The most important message that was given throughout the event was that through a little help and guidance, one can regain what they thought they lost.