IU students display hundreds of luminarias to represent number of students who commit suicide at colleges each year

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Students at Indiana University are working to shine a bright light on mental health at their college campus.

In honor of World Suicide Prevention Day, a group of IU students put out 1,100 white paper bag luminarias in remembrance of the average number of students who die by suicide at college campuses each year.

Balance at Kelley, a mental health initiative started by students at the Kelley School of Business, organized the "Lights for Life" event, where they invited students across campus to decorate a paper bag with a positive or inspiring message of hope.

"It's just something positive and uplifting that other students can read as they’re walking by and kind of feel better about their day," said Clark Langlois, the vice president of operations for Balance at Kelley.

Lexie Lyons is the president of Balance at Kelley. She said the goal of the organization is to decrease the stigma surrounding mental health by raising awareness across campus

"There is most definitely a stigma, especially on college campuses," said Lyons. "What we do within our school, we just kind of put it out there in casual, daily life and make sure that people can see it and talk about it and don’t feel uncomfortable or shy away from it."

Lyons said the event serves as a reminder of mental illness issues that remain on college campus.

"It's shocking to see suicide statistics when you’re just walking to class, but it’s something we need bring up. One of the best ways to reduce it is to just talk about it.”

The 1,100 luminarias will light up the IU campus well into the evening.

Members of Balance at Kelley plan on hosting a different event focused on mental health each month as the school year continues.

If you or someone you know needs help, contact the Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-272-TALK.