Steven Doolittle, 19, said he never understood the magnitude of suicide until his ex-girlfriend’s sister called him during his freshman year of high school and gave him terrible news: the girl who once completed his life, had taken her own.
Now a junior at SUNY Oneonta, Doolittle said the experience deeply affected him and helped inspire him to organize a two-part suicide-prevention event at the college, which will take place Thursday on campus.
The event, called Never Give Up, will consist of two presentations, one at 4:30 p.m. in the Red Dragon Theater at Hunt Union and one at 7:30 p.m. in HIRC 3. Doolittle said part one will include the viewing and discussion of the film, “The Truth About Suicide,” followed by guest speakers from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, professors from the SUNY Oneonta Education Department and representatives from the college counseling center. University police chief Daniel P. Chambers will also be speaking.
Part two of the event will be focused on the clinical aspects of mental illness and suicide, Doolittle said, and will feature guest speakers from the National Alliance for Mental Illness, professors from the college’s Psychology Department and U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson’s wife, Mary Jo.
“It means a lot that she is coming. Originally, I called Congressman Gibson’s office to ask if he would come, but he told me he would be in Washington that week. But Mary Jo said she would be happy to come and speak,” Doolittle said. “I’m really excited, but a little nervous.”
Doolittle said his experiences in high school with his ex-girlfriend and with other friends who experienced depression or other mental illnesses set into motion his passion for psychology, which he chose to pursue in college. Doolittle always knew he wanted to be a psychology major, he said, and his dream job would be to work with the mentally ill as a psychiatrist.