Alpha Phi Omega (APO) hosted its National Service Week initiative this week from November 5 to November 12. This year’s theme was “Preventing Suicide on Campus.” Students were encouraged to participate in various events throughout the week and buy a care package, with the proceeds going to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).
The themes for APO’s service weeks are decided by their national fraternity, but nonetheless, they felt it was important to raise awareness for this issue. “Suicide is the third leading cause of death among 15-24 year old’s, so it’s important we focus on this at Stevens,” said Brendan Shepard, a brother of APO. Another important point Brendan mentioned was how “we don’t think about [suicide] until it happens,” so it is important that measures are put in place to help those struggling with wanting to commit suicide before they do. Shepard was happy with the number of people who bought care packages since the donations were going to a good cause. The care packages are filled with items like stress balls, snacks, and more. He also hopes that Stevens will host more school-sponsored events regarding this issue, especially due to the number of suicides committed on campus in recent years.
The planning for the week took a little over a month. One of the events was a masquerade co-hosted with Torch Alliance, where proceeds were raised for the Trevor Project, an organization dedicated to preventing LGBTQ youth suicide. Torch and APO filled Babbio Atrium with carnival games, tons of food, and prizes.
There was also an open mic night hosted in conjunction with the Poetry Club titled #ReasonsISpeak in order to get people talking about suicide and mental illness. #ReasonsISpeak is a nationwide movement to come out and speak about either personal or closely connected friends and family members’ struggles with suicide. Although the event is meant to raise voices, APO also had the option of photo activism if people were not comfortable speaking. Additionally, there was a bake sale going on during the event, with proceeds going to AFSP.
Hosting events with other clubs on campus was one of the key pieces for APO’s service week. This allowed them to spread awareness more efficiently. Aside from these co-hosted club events, APO also welcomed special guest Dr. Swindall to campus to speak about self-care. The Mindfulness Workshop also included an exercise for those in attendance to become more relaxed, centered, and aware of their personal needs.
The last events are a food fundraiser for AFSP on Saturday and a mental health screening/discussion on Sunday. At 5pm Sunday, APO is also encouraging students to come and write notes of appreciation for their members as well. They will be handing the notes out to members during their next chapter meeting.