UCDSU’s Welfare Officer Mícheál Gallagher along with the Please Talk committee held their annual Please Talk Candle Lit Vigil last Thursday outside the James Joyce Library. This marks the fourth time this event has taken place in UCD.
Gallagher was extremely pleased with how the event went this year, stating: “The Please Talk candle lit vigil went really well, very pleased with the attendance. It was a very special event for marking those who passed away, who were very special to UCD students and staff.”
Volunteers laid down 525 candles in a chalk outline of the Please Talk Symbol, and they were lit as the ceremony took place. Gallagher explained: “Each one of the 525 candles was to represent someone who had passed by suicide in the last year in Ireland.”
Gallagher’s main aim with the event was to encourage students to raise awareness of the Please Talk slogan: “Talking is a sign of strength, not of weakness.” At the event, Gallagher and Chair of the Please Talk Committee Evan Heritage spoke about this message, along with what Please Talk meant to them both. Gallagher stated that with the release this year of Headstrong’s My World Survey in conjunction with the UCD School of Psychology, a survey of 14,000 young people, profiling their mental health, this message is even more prominent than before.
Gallagher said: “The My World Survey was publicised and released, and it has proven that talking about your problems is directly related to coping better with your problems. It also has proven that not talking about your problems is related to suicidal behaviour. This campaign message that was started five and a half years ago is now coming across in studies as the most successful way to get across to students.”
Gallagher had hoped to get the event trending on Twitter, however didn’t quite reach the number of tweets needed at “peak social media time” to achieve this. His aim with this endeavour was not only to notify people of the event, but to spread the Please Talk message further, and he felt he still achieved that much. “We didn’t get it trending, we tried our hardest. But a lot of my friends did admit that it clogged up their news feeds and I’m happy with that.”
This event was one of the many to take place in Ireland, with a number other colleges expected to hold similar events on their campuses in the remaining days of November. Please Talk is currently on 34 campuses, with three colleges from Northern Ireland joining in the last year.