WKU freshman launches club to fight against suicide

Rachael Walters

Inspired by his own experiences with the pain suicide can cause, Leitchfield freshman Johnny Armstrong hosted an informational meeting Tuesday to announce the formation of a new club, The Fight Against Suicide.

Armstrong said the hope is that the organization can fundraise and host seminars at local schools, helping WKU and Bowling Green become more aware of and how to prevent suicide.

The club also hopes to change the social stigma about suicide, Armstrong said. Many people are ashamed about feeling suicidal or knowing someone who has killed themselves.

“Unlike everyone else,” Armstrong said, “I am going to talk about it.”

The club is open to all WKU students, and Armstrong is actively looking for people willing to take on officer positions.

The meeting introduced the club’s mission to raise awareness about suicide and prevention. Because the club is new, and therefore has few members, Armstrong has not been able to receive any university funding and said he has used his own money to meet the club’s financial needs. Armstrong said he hopes with an increase in membership the club can receive support, and possibly apply for a grant.

After losing seven friends and family members from suicide, including his father, he is motivated to help others that struggle with suicidal thoughts or have lost someone close to them.

Suicidal thoughts are a struggle that no one should have to suffer through alone, Armstrong said.

At the meeting a slideshow was presented by Armstrong to demonstrate his personal connection to suicide, including statistics, the police report from his father’s suicide and pictures from his father’s crime scene. The pictures depicted his father’s feet, the gun and blood.

“When he killed himself it took everything from me,” Armstrong said.

After dealing with his own depression over his father’s suicide, Armstrong now wants to help others.

“I want to show people that no matter how hard life gets, or how bad you think your life is, you can make it through anything if you put up the fight,” he said.

With the help of club advisor Kim Cunningham, assistant professor in Academic Support, Armstrong has been able to create this club to aid those affected by suicide. It is an independent club without any national affiliation. Armstrong said he eventually plans to turn it into a suicide prevention non-profit organization.

Cunningham said she agreed to be moderator of the club to support Armstrong’s efforts, and aid students needing support in college.

“I think the club is capable of doing great things,” Cunningham said, “Spreading the word about suicide prevention is extremely important among our student population.”

Currently, the club is working to set up a website. Contact Johnny Armstrong at [email protected] if interested in joining or for more information.