Remembering Mollie Easley: Student Veteran Success Center holds third annual suicide awareness walk
Monday, September 18, 2023
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Oklahoma State University’s Student Veteran Success Center, in collaboration with University Counseling Services and the Department of Wellness, is focused on ending the stigma around suicide discussions.
“By coming out this afternoon, you made a choice,” said Vincent Rivera, student veteran success coordinator. “You made a conscious decision to say no, we will not let silence win.”
A group of students, faculty and staff joined at the OSU remembrance garden to walk 2.2 miles in honor of former student Mollie Easley. The 2.2 miles is in honor of the average of 22 veterans lost every day to suicide. Most events honoring these veterans follow the 22 or 2.2 as distances for walks and runs.
Easley was a student at OSU who worked in the Student Veteran Organization. She joined the Air National Guard in 2016. During the height of the pandemic in 2020, Easley took her own life.
Rivera joined the VSC staff the following fall. One day, he asked why there wasn’t a suicide awareness march and he began planning one. This is how he learned about Easley.
“I asked if there were any stories to share and immediately there was a yes: Mollie,” Rivera said. “Mollie was a loved member of our campus, a hard worker and a friend.”
Easley’s parents, Heather and Lt. Col. John Easley, have attended marches in the past but were unable to attend this year. Instead, they sent a statement that Rivera read before the march began.
“We are emotionally divided this week as we are torn between two events,” the letter read. “Mollie’s walk and our son Will’s wedding. Please know our hearts are there with you.
“Mollie was the last person in the world we ever thought would take this action, those who knew her would tell you the same. We walk this to remember Mollie, her energy and passion, but primarily for awareness, and to reach out to those who are the last ones we would ever think could be capable of having these thoughts, and let them know they are not alone, there is help.”
Before the walk started, attendees were given resources from various groups on campus. Cheyenne Fisher, a grief and loss intern at UCS, discussed some of the counseling options UCS offers including group counseling, individual counseling, suicide prevention training and the reboot center. OSU is also planning an international survivors of suicide loss day (Nov. 18) event for November.
"Even though conversations about suicide are easier nowadays, it can be really difficult to bring up the subject,” Fisher said. “That’s why University Counseling Services is here to open up that conversation and be available to any students or faculty or anyone else that might want to talk and give resources to suicide prevention training.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or other mental health issues, you can find resources at okla.st/letstalk.
Story By: Abigail Cage | email@example.com