Kappa Sigma event addresses suicide

Photo by Tyler Meuter

Nov. 23 will see the kick-off of the inaugural Kappa Sigma games, which will support the cause of kicking the stigma of mental illness and suicide on campus. The event will combine spirited physical activity, such as kickball and a three-legged relay, with an awareness raising campaign aimed at suicide prevention.

Jonathan Edwards, philanthropy chair for Kappa Sigma and organizer of the event, explained that the goal is to make suicide a topic that can be addressed directly, and for students to know the resources available on campus. The hope is that this will make those who suffer from suicidal thoughts and those close to them better able to cope with the issue.

“People want to help, but they don’t know how,” he said. “We want to educate the students who don’t know how to react, because if you’re not told, it’s hard to be expected to know what to do.”

To that end, Kappa Sigma has worked with a number of organizations to bring to campus information and support for those whose lives have been affected by mental illness. Three guest speakers will also come throughout the day and share their own experiences with suicidal thoughts and depression.

Proceeds from the games will support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Various other groups, such as To Write Love on Her Arms and the Counseling Center at Georgia Tech, will be at the event to offer a chance for students to get information on getting involved or receiving support.

The importance of this cause is felt especially by the members of Kappa Sigma after one of their brothers took his own life in the spring of 2013. The event had a profound impact within the fraternity and motivated an increased awareness of mental health and the fraternity’s own function as an influential support network.

“When something like that happens, everybody has questions,” said John Merlie, president of the Tech Kappa Sigma fraternity chapter. “Why did this happen? Was there something we could have done?” After the experience, many of the brothers wanted passionately to prevent similar tragedies in the future.

“There’s a lot of brothers who’ve been personally affected by this, and so we know the real pain of it,” explained Edwards. He stated that the games will offer a means to channel that passion to make a positive impact, to “make the campus a better place, and to make the brothers in Kappa Sigma better men.”

With this goal, the games will not just be a day to relax and have fun competing, but also a way of addressing an issue that has affected the lives of many students and faculty at Tech.

The games will take place on Sunday, Nov. 23, and will feature an engaging kickball tournament simultaneous with games of bocce ball and the beloved fraternity game, cornhole. The events will run from 10:45 in the morning to 5:30 in the evening, ending with a three-legged race.

Various food vendors will be present on site, with a percentage of sales benefitting the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Registration for an individual costs $15, with options for either signing up with an entire team of ten or being placed on a random team.

The brothers hope the event will prove successful while raising awareness for the cause.