On April 15 in the UC auditorium from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., The University of West Florida’s Students for Suicide Awareness group hosted their 5th annual Seeds of Hope Music and Art show to support suicide awareness and prevention on campus.
Seeds of Hope Music and Art show was founded in 2009 by students and active community member Raela Villanueva. With the help of community musicians and artisans, the first annual Seeds of Hope Music and Art show was held and deemed an instant success. From this event, SSA was formed and thenceforth has been educating the students on campus on suicide awareness.
Why music and arts at a show about suicide? According to SSA, they choose to showcase music and arts because it “…gets the dialogue going and captures people’s attention…” Indeed, the music and arts displayed at the 5th annual Seeds of Hope show was quite captivating. The art exhibit showcased a wide variety of photos, paintings, sketches, and poems all dedicated to suicide awareness. These works displayed love, pain, and the desirability to go on. The exhibit included work from artists such as Pamela J (PJ) Hughes, showcasing her “Dream Angel,” Michael Banks’ “Fitting In,” Ashton Howard’s “Escape,” and many other notable artists and works.
This year’s event also included a series of poems, songs and skits performed by members of SSA. Christina Patros, member of SSA, opened the show by gracefully singing ‘Gravity’ by Sara Bareilles. “She sang so beautifully, it lifted my spirits immediately,” said sophomore Amanda Obeid.
Representatives from UWF’s Counseling and Wellness Services were also in attendance, handing out pamphlets and other free information about suicide. The event was free to students and $5 for all other attendees. Participants were given free T-shirts, along with free food and beverages.
SSA is active on campus all throughout the school year, creating posters to put all over campus to educate students about depression and suicide, and how depression can lead to suicidal thoughts and/or actions.
Every spring, SSA travels to Tallahassee for Florida’s Suicide Prevention Day at the capital. The group also participates in an annual November 5k walk on National Survivors of Suicide Day in memory of Tyler Knisely, a UWF student lost to suicide in 2011. SSA also participates in the Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk that is hosted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Every summer, selected members of SSA walk an 18 mile journey from dusk until dawn, figuratively bringing the issues of suicide and depression to the light and refusing to let this issue continue on unaddressed. From more information about SSA and their events contact group president Justin McKay at firstname.lastname@example.org