Therapy dogs, cakes promote suicide prevention week

Meraal Hakeem

Students were able to pet therapy dogs and purchase cakes from Depressed Cake Shop, a pop-up bakery set up on the East Mall, in honor of suicide prevention week Monday. 

The CMHC hosts suicide prevention week every September on the UT campus, and this year’s theme is Connect to Care.

“Connecting to care is to really help people to connect with others and to advocate for suicide prevention on campus,” said Kelsey Lammy, mental health promotion and health education coordinator. “[It’s} really there to empower students to create a culture of care on our campus, to really try to create a movement of caring for each other and looking out for one another.”

The Depressed Cake Shop was started in the United Kingdom with bakers and pastry chefs aspiring to a start a safe, fun and energetic space to discuss mental illness and issues. The Counseling and Mental Health Center wanted to recreate a similar space where students could comfortably talk about mental health as well.

“We have treats that are really kind of dull colors on the outside but on the inside they are rainbow to signify the fact that there is hope within each of us,” Lammy said. “All of the money and all of the proceeds go to the Brian L. Harlan Memorial Endowment for suicide prevention on UT’s campus.”

Suicide prevention coordinator Marian Trattner said the goals of the week are to create public awareness by informing students of the possibility of suicide occuring on campus and encouraging them to discuss mental health openly in a safe setting. Trattner said she hopes the events will involve students and faculty in suicide prevention efforts on campus. 

“There are students everyday on campus who are experiencing thoughts of suicide,” Trattner said. “It’s really important for students, faculty and staff to be aware of suicide and how to help a student who is experiencing those thoughts.”

Therapy dogs were also brought in from the Austin Dog Alliance for the event.

“I think the dogs helped create this atmosphere of understanding and support within the student body,” psychology freshman Sonia Patel said. “It helps students feel that there’s always someone out there to help you.”

Suicide prevention week events will continue through Friday.

“All longhorns look after one another and take care of each other,” Trattner said. “That is what this week  is about.”