Central College Symbolizes College Suicides with T-Shirts

PELLA, Iowa – Central College is bringing awareness of mental health through t-shirts.

Since Monday, the school has slowly hung up shirts across its campus and student center to symbolize 1,100 suicides. Every year across the country college campuses will see 1,100 suicides.

Assistant Director of the Counseling Center George Clark said the school was inspired by a “backpack project” where the goal was to start a conversation about mental health.

“This isn’t just a one time, hey we are going to put up this project and then discontinue the conversation. We’ll continue to advertise about the importance of coming in for counseling. We have counseling services available free to our students on campus. Just reminding students that you need to take care of your emotional well-being,” Clark said.

The t-shirts were donated from various schools, people and organizations to visualize the deaths on campus.

Sophomore at Central College, Grace Vaughn said the shirts have started a conversation amongst peers.

“When people see that they realize wow these are people that I would have been going to school with. These are my friends, these are my family members and people were even able to in Maytag they were able to put name-tags on some of the shirts if they have lost a family member, a friend anybody to suicide. It really hits home for a lot of people and it’s personal for a lot of people,” Vaughn said.

Clark said by the end of the week, the t-shirts will slowly come down.

Vaughn said students are starting to think about mental health more since the shirts have been up.

“You don’t know what people are going through, and it’s not just something you can say it doesn’t affect me. This is happening on college campuses, and I think this is something my friends here have been starting to think about,” Vaughn said.

The shirts that were donated to the school will be donated to various groups for a new purpose.

Vaughn said 500 shirts will go to Upward Bound, a program at Central College, where people will be transforming the shirts into slings for mothers.

All the t-shirts will be donated back to the community.