Lost & Found: DSU Students Addressing Suicide
“You with the sad eyes, don’t be discouraged, Oh I realize, It’s hard to take courage, In a world full of people, You can lose sight of it all, And a darkness inside you, Can make you feel so small” Cyndi Lauper, True Colors.
These were the words that filled the Trojan Center Underground recently; the song was chosen and performed by the Dakota State University choir. Their performance was part of the Lost & Found event which is part of a larger national non-profit organization that addresses suicide prevention.
Over 100 students filled the Underground to hear the DSU choir, DSU student John Niesen sing “Why” by Rascal Flatts, and listen to presenter DJ Smith, founder of the Lost & Found organization. Smith, a junior at the University of South Dakota, spoke about personal stories of his and other students dealing with the issues of suicide.
With recent suicides of S.D. college students fresh in the minds of students, the personal anecdotes Smith described from his own friends, and emails that he has received from those the organization has helped, seemed extremely relevant. South Dakota’s suicide rate ranks as the 9th highest in the United States across all age groups and 7th highest for youth and young adults age 15 to 24. The suicide rate for the 15 to 24 age group is 20.2 per 100,000 which is almost double the national rate at 11.0, according to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.
Lost & Found is looking not only to focus on college-age students dealing with suicide, but every age group as well. They are looking to bring this issue to light for everyone and lower the rates of suicide within South Dakota and around the nation. In addition to bringing awareness, Lost & Found also assists in paying the medical bills for those who have attempted suicide or help pay funeral costs for those who have lost a loved one to suicide.
In appreciation for the services Lost & Found is doing with suicide prevention and awareness, as well as the support that is given to family and friends of suicide tragedies, the DSU Student Association Senate made a donation of $1000 to help further the organization’s mission. DSU is also looking to open their own chapter of the Lost & Found organization on-campus.
DSU students, Elliott Breukelman and Sara Irvine, were the main advocates in bringing the organization to campus. They met Smith through their work together in the SD Student Federation, which is a group of SD BOR schools’ student senate presidents and vice presidents.
“With multiple suicides on college campuses around the state, the students at DSU need to know there are resources for them,” said Breukelman. “They need to know they can talk to someone before it gets to the point of wanting to take their own life. Lost & Found, along with the DSU Student Success Center, aims to be an outlet at which any student can get help or provide help for another students in need. Sara and I have made it a personal goal to get Lost & Found up and running at DSU and to give students that outlet.”
The event was sponsored by DSU Student Senate, DSU2, DSU Live, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, Campus Crusade for Christ, Student Ambassadors, Student Affairs, and the Student Success Center.