UWF Active Minds partners with local jewelry company to bring awareness to suicide

By Rachel Witbracht
Staff writer

The Active Minds group at the University of West Florida hopes to bring attention to suicide and other mental health concerns.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death in college students, according to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center. Active Minds, a national nonprofit organization with more than 400 chapters nationwide, aims to break the stigma against mental illness and to prevent suicide, which happens often on university campuses.

Active Minds partnered with Love Me Knot, a local jewelry company, for a Sept. 2 event at Goat Lips Chew and Brewhouse. Love Me Knot is owned by mother and daughter duo Mary and Elli Gentile, who said they believe that everyone should embrace their gifts and love themselves.

Love Me Knot shares 10 percent of its profits with the UWF Active Minds chapter as they share the same goals in bringing awareness to mental health. The company’s mission is summarized in its original poem, which headlines its website: “A single star in the universe is what you are, so shine before the others, celebrate your oneness, be your own best friend, and knot it with love.”

Sydney Walker, a freshman psychology major, is the president of Active Minds at UWF and has aimed to bring more attention to mental health during the month of September, which is Suicide Awareness Month.

Active Minds is a student organization with more than 400 chapters nationwide, including one at UWF. (Photo courtesy of Active Minds at UWF)

Active Minds has more than 10 active members and holds social functions at least once a semester where many campus allies show up to support the cause. The group often holds tabling events in search of donations for suicide prevention and to bring attention to fellow students — showing them that they are not alone.

Active Minds Vice President Michelle Maloney said that her goal for the group is to bring calm to the new school year and to let fellow students know that although they may be stressed, there is a place that they belong.

Suicide accounted for 15.5 percent of deaths in the United States in 2015 for ages 20 to 34, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Annually in Florida, more than twice as many people take their own lives than die by homicide.

Active Minds is in their fourth year of organizing on campus and they encourage anyone with self-doubt to join the organization so they may have the opportunity to prove that even on a campus as big as UWF, there is someone willing to help.

For more information, or to seek help, contact the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.