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Thursday, Oct 04, 2018 at 9:20 pm

Suicide Awareness And SU

By Anna Azallion – Syracuse, N.Y. (CitrusTV) – Active Minds, a student run organization at Syracuse University, brought the Remembering T.J. program to campus on Thursday as part of Mental Health Awareness Week.

Steve and Wendy Sefcik created the program that speaks at schools around the Northeast.

“After we lost our son, T.J., to suicide when he was 16, we started to do a lot of research and realized we needed to share our story,” Wendy Sefcik said.

That’s when Remembering T.J was born. The Sefcik’s now share memories of T.J. along with his story.

“T.J. was a gift,” Wendy Sefcik said. “He was a really bright light that burned very, very quickly; much too quickly, but he was a joy and he was a gift to anybody that knew him.”

Wendy also described T.J. as someone who was always there to listen and someone that asked how people were and really wanted to know.

Another part of the program is busting common myths about suicide. Wendy provided an example.

“One of the greatest myths of suicide is talking about it will plant a seed and get people thinking about it when in reality talking about suicide, getting these conversations going will make people that are struggling better able to ask for help,” she said.

During the program and during conversation, the Sefcik’s stress how important it is for people to reach out and get help. Multiple resources are shared during the program including Erika’s Lighthouse, the JED foundation, and the Crisis Text Line.

“The thing about the resources also is some people think it’s only for those who are struggling,” Steve Sefcik said. “Honestly, those resources are just as important for the friend of someone who’s struggling.”

Steve Sefcik said he’s found T.J.’s message to be something that aides others in realizing how important it is to seek help.

“After the program is over, they’ll linger and then they’ll come up and say, I am T.J. I need help,” Steve Sefcik said.

Their message to anyone who might be thinking that same thing is simple: there’s hope.

“Life is a journey and nobody gets through this life unscathed; there are going to be difficult obstacles that everybody has to go through and there are going to be wonderful, glorious moments in everybody’s life, but you need to be here,” Wendy Sefcik said.

At SU, there are organizations like Active Minds that work to increase suicide awareness. The president of Active Minds and an SU junior, Meghan Nelligan said she has wanted to bring Remembering T.J. to campus since her freshman year.

“My sister actually went to high school with T.J. and she was friends with him, so it kind of is like a personal thing, for my sister at least,” she said.

Nelligan said the Sefcik’s came to her high school and that’s when she was first exposed to the program.

SU also provides resources to students including the counseling center which provides crisis help 24/7.