Kickball tournament marks beginning of Suicide Prevention Week

Brittany Wagner

On a cloudy Saturday morning, five kickball teams took their energy to the field to launch Suicide Prevention Week.

The Be That One suicide prevention program of the UT Counseling and Mental Health Center hosted the “Kick Back Against Stigma” Kickball Tournament to start off Suicide Prevention Week.

The tournament partnered with the Brian L. Harlan Memorial Endowment, which was established in 2011 to support suicide prevention programs at UT.

Brian Harlan was a victim of suicide, and his parents honored his memory with an endowment in hopes of helping students who are facing the same challenges Brian did. At the start of the tournament, Larry Harlan — Brian’s father — spoke to the students gathered.

“If he had an outlet, if he had a way to talk about those things, he could still be alive today,” Harlan said. “The stigma against that is just so strong, and so we’re just looking for a way to try to change that.”

Marian Trattner is the health education coordinator for the program at CMHC. 

Consistent with the national college campus statistics, UT loses an average of three to four students to suicide every year, according to Trattner. 

She encouraged a shift from awareness to action, citing kickball as a good way to bring like-minded students together to start an open conversation about mental health.

“Our whole theme around Suicide Prevention Week is “Connect to Care,” so we’re really trying to give students tangible things that they can do to move away from awareness to action,” Trattner said. “They could request a free workshop on suicide prevention for their student organization. They could go to our website to learn about how to help a friend who is struggling with thoughts of suicide and what they can do about it.”

Brandie Williams, a fifth-year education student, formed a team with her fellow members of the Creative Arts and Theatre Committee. She said she has told many of her friends about Suicide Prevention Week since making plans to participate in the kickball tournament.

“I think this is a very fun, very organized way of spreading awareness of Suicide Prevention Week because I hadn’t known that there was a week for it,” Williams said. “I knew that there were days, but this is a good way to spread the word about it.”