James Madison University organization hosting event to boost mental health

Published: Nov. 2, 2022 at 10:36 AM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Dr. Lindsey Harvell-Bowman is director of James Madison University’s Terror Management lab, which studies the ideas of death and suicide.

She says over the last year students on the University’s campus have approached her about more advocacy and awareness around these topics.

In a 2020 report, The National Institute of Mental Health stated that suicide was the third leading cause of death among ages 15-24. Dr. Harvell-Bowman says that’s a big reason why the Terror Management Lab is hosting the ‘Connecting Madison’s Community’ event on Nov. 5.

“We wanted to put on an event that connected our community together not only our JMU community but also the greater Harrisonburg community to remind us that we are connected and we are not alone and to boost our mental health,” Dr. Harvell-Bowman said.

Earlier this year, 22-year-old JMU softball player Lauren Bernett died by suicide. The news shocked and saddened the university’s community and beyond, and brought about conversations about mental health resources for student-athletes and more efforts in suicide prevention.

Dr. Harvell-Bowman says reducing the stigma around these types of conversations is the first step for a student, faculty member, or anyone who is struggling to come forward and seek help.

“Realizing that this mental health crisis is not a JMU issue it’s an every college campus all over the United States. So it’s really something that the more that we’re aware and the more that we feel comfortable talking about, it will help a lot of people want to come forward and talk to their friends or family about any feelings they may be having,” Dr. Harvell Bowman said.

The event is from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5th on JMU’s Festival Lawn, and will feature a variety of area mental health resource booths and activities, including a yoga and POUND fitness class which each cost $10.

All of the proceeds from the event will benefit the Campus Suicide Prevention Center of Virginia. You can find out more about the ‘Connecting Madison’s Community’ event and pre-register for specific activities by clicking here.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, contact the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 988.