Islander Community Comes Together to Form Links Across Campus, Spread Awareness for Suicide

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – College can be a difficult time for students – one where they are often away from home for the first time and it’s easy to feel alone or isolated.

But no Islander is alone. We’re all linked together in an unbreakable bond.

This feeling is what Dr. Pamela Greene, assistant professor of nursing, and Julia LeClair, a graduate assistant and graduate student in the counseling program, hoped to express with Links Across Campus. The event was initially created by the University Counseling Center then integrated into the Suicide Awareness Focuses on Everyone (SAFE) program.

In a moving demonstration of how we’re all connected, Islanders gathered to spread a paper chain across campus. Faculty, staff, and students christened each link with words of encouragement displaying their caring for each member of the University.

“There are a lot of people who may want to cry out for help but don’t know how,” said LeClair. “We’re working to break the stigma surrounding mental health, so each student feels like they can get support if they need it.”

In the past, LeClair has struggled with mental health issues and thoughts of suicide. As a veteran, she has a different life experience when compared to “traditional” students. She was reluctant to reach out for help at first until she realized how much she truly needed it.

“I didn’t feel like I could tell anyone, and I didn’t want to worry my parents and family,” said LeClair. “I ended up driving myself to a really, really low point in my life, and that’s when I finally decided I needed to do something. Today, I’m in a much better place, and this job helps me feel like I’m doing something for the greater good.”

LeClair was introduced to SAFE while serving as the public relations officer for the Student Veteran Organization. She knew she wanted to help people and, to her, SAFE was the perfect place to do that. LeClair says that what’s most important is that their trainings have an impact on at least one person.

“This kind of event doesn’t just affect the typical student population, but all different demographics,” said LeClair. “We want to reach everyone, whether they’re veterans, LGBTQIA+, older, or the typical college student. Even though everyone has different interests, one suicide can affect our whole population.”

This notion is apparent in the links themselves. While many contain words of encouragement for those going through a troubled time, others are a written memorial to a friend or family member who was lost to suicide.

“This is a bigger message, in a way. It shows the effect suicide can have,” said LeClair. “To me, the chain symbolizes us all as a community, and just one suicide – one broken link – hurts everyone.”

Both LeClair and Greene urge any student who feels they need help, or know someone who does, to reach out to the Counseling Center for information and guidance. To learn more about the warning signs for suicide, Islander students, faculty, and staff are invited to schedule a training by contacting the Counseling Center at 361.825.2703.