Simpson groups advocate for suicide prevention


Many students’ backpacks are adorned with green bandanas, signaling their support for suicide awareness.

by Shelby McCasland, Staff Writer

After the recent death of a Simpson student, several groups on campus advocate for mental health and raise awareness for resources on campus during National Suicide Awareness Month.

Simpson’s Chaplain, Mara Bailey, has identified herself as a source for struggling students. 

“I do what I can to make myself and my staff available to students or anyone who is struggling and needs an ear,” Bailey said. “Knowing the kind of intricacies that come in for some people with their own religious faith or understanding, if they have questions that relate to how a mental health struggle might impact or intersect with that, I’m also serving as a resource in that way.”

As Chaplain, Bailey is not a mandatory reporter, acting as one of the confidential resources on campus that does not fall under Title IX. 

“Knowing that I’m a confidential source sometimes does help people recognize that if they don’t know where to go next, or they’re concerned or afraid of what looks like next, and I can be a safe space to go through that initial process of asking questions or wondering or just saying you know, ‘I don’t know what to do, how can you help?’” Bailey said.

Outside of Smith Chapel, counseling services are an excellent resource for mental health struggles.  

Jenny Vargas, Director of Counseling Services, stresses the importance of counseling and the resources they provide.

“What we do at the counseling office is just provide a place for folks to be able to feel heard, feel seen, you know, develop coping skills on when they get those thoughts and how to manage them safely,” Vargas said. “Planning on how to maintain safety when they’re not in sessions as well as just crisis resources, whether it’s hotlines or other local resources like our mobile crisis unit, and we offer those to students.”

Just like the Chaplain, counselors are a confidential resource on campus. 

“With the exception of if you pose an imminent threat to harm yourself or others, everything that you say or do in our office is confidential,” Vargas said.  

Emma Thul, the president of Active Minds, feels very strongly about the need for open conversations about mental health.

“We feel that it’s important and necessary to have conversations regarding suicide and mental health,” Thul said.  

The group is hoping to be more active on campus this year; its first meeting will be Sept. 29 at 5 p.m.

“We want to host educational programs and awareness programs surrounding mental health, so other people can feel empowered by that and seek help if they need it and encourage others to get help as well,” Thul said.