The Parkland College Blog

Suicide Loss Survivor: What I've Learned

One survivor shares about living with the anguish and finding help

I’ve learned a few things about suicide and grief since my brother’s death by suicide six years ago, and then after my wife’s closest friend died by suicide two years later.

Losing my brother, Mo, and then Amy, who was also my friend, to suicide, rocked my world and permanently changed me. These were people close to me, whom I’d known and loved for years. How was it that I didn’t see Mo’s despair, or the depths of Amy’s depression? What did I miss? Even though the circumstances surrounding their deaths were quite different, the anguish I experienced from not being able to somehow prevent them from dying was the same. Over and over, I kept thinking that each of their deaths was preventable, and so very unnecessary.

I’ve learned that living with this anguish, on top of the grief, is part of the experience of surviving a loss by suicide. And as with grief, the anguish eases over time, but will re-emerge unexpectedly as though no time has passed and no lessons have been learned.

I’ve learned that suicide still carries a stigma. People will criticize your loved one for being “selfish” or “cowardly” out of bias or ignorance about the causes of suicide. It’s painful to hear these comments, and they make me feel protective of my brother and my friend, even when I have felt intense anger toward them for leaving behind family and friends whose grief will last a lifetime.

I’ve learned that suicide is more common than I had realized. Each time I hear of someone’s death by suicide, I’m particularly concerned for those around him or her who are depressed or who are going through a difficult time because of the “contagion effect.” In this dynamic, suicide becomes a viable option to someone struggling emotionally who had not previously considered taking his or her life.

And, finally, I’ve learned that I am not alone. Being with other survivors of suicide loss has given me strength when I have needed it, has helped me to push through the anguish, and has given me the opportunity to pass on ways in which I have learned to cope and to heal.

Each year, on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) offers a program for people who have been impacted by suicide to find comfort, gain insight, and share stories of healing and hope. This program, called the International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day (ISOSLD), will be held on Saturday, November 23 from 8:15 to noon at Parkland College in Room U140.

To register, go to This program is free and open to the public (though not recommended for children under 18). For more information, contact: Dennis Cockrum at or 217/353-2254 or Katie Schacht at or 217/373-3824.

Additional information about ISOSLD, suicide prevention, and educational resources can be found at

You can find information on mental health services and treatment in the Champaign County area on the Family Service website,; at; or by calling 211.

Parkland College students have free, confidential counseling services available to them in the Counseling Services office. Please contact Dennis or Katie at the numbers above.

[Marilyn Ryan is a retired counselor from Parkland College.]

Parkland Raises Funds for Suicide Prevention

College team top fundraiser for community walk; September is Suicide Prevention Month

Parkland College showed strong support for the Champaign-Urbana Out of Darkness Community Walk, held Sept. 8 at Crystal Lake Park in Urbana. This event, sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, takes place during Suicide Prevention Month. 

We had a great day for the Sunday walk. It felt like a celebration; they even had a DJ. A lot of people showed up to lend their support and to walk with us. Our team was made up of Parkland employees, students, family, and friends. We walked in honor of friends and family who have died by suicide.

Our 14-member Parkland Friends Team was the top fundraiser among the 43 teams that attended! So far this year, we have raised $3,234. I was also honored to be our team's captain and to be named the event's top individual fundraiser out of 241, with $1,185 raised. 

Let's all do our part to help reduce the risk of suicide, not just during the month of September, but year-round. To make a donation to the C-U Out of Darkness Community Walk, please visit the donor page.


[Dennis Cockrum, Parkland College counselor]

Degree Completion Day

Learn how to get to the end of your college journey

Working toward your Parkland College degree or certificate? Do your parents have credits from Parkland but never completed a degree? You ALL could join us for Degree Completion Day, Wednesday Oct. 2 from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the U building and find out what's needed to finish.

Degree Completion Day might be an easy way to make your schedule for the rest of your college journey through student planning. Whether you're "so close" to your certificate or new to campus, this event is for you:

  • Counseling Services advisors will be available to check your progress.
  • Financial Aid will be there to let you know if you might qualify for a Pell Grant.
  • Petition to Graduate applications will be available, if you'll earn your degree this fall.
  • Student Life will be on hand with information about commencement.
  • Refreshments, fun activities, and WPCD-FM live streaming will be part of the fun!

Come on over to the Student Union and learn about the other end of registration. See you there!


[Dennis Kaczor, Counseling Services]


Illinois Regional College Fair, Sept. 18

High school, transfer students can meet with 70+ US educational institutions

Area students and their parents will have a unique opportunity to explore a wide variety of higher education options at the 2019 Illinois Regional College Fair, Wednesday, September 18, 6–8 p.m. at Parkland College's Donald C. Dodds, Jr. Athletic Center.  

The event is free and open to the public.
Designed for high school students and community college transfer students; the ICRF introduces students and their parents to representatives from more than 70 educational institutions from across the country. Participants will receive important information about education planning, visit displays from various colleges and universities, and be able to speak one-on-one with representatives from many institutions. In addition, they will have an opportunity to discuss financial aid and career choices.
The Illinois Regional College Fair is sponsored by the Illinois Association for College Admission Counseling, along with Parkland College. For more information, students may contact their high school guidance counselors, view or call 217/353-2636.

Parkland Scholarships: Apply Now

Apply for $100,000+ in spring semester scholarships through Nov. 15

The Parkland College Foundation is now offering scholarships for the spring 2019 semester. More than 90 scholarships, totaling more than $100,000, are available! Individual amounts can range from $100 to $3,000.

The primary application period is October 15–November 15, 2018 (and March 15–April 15, 2019 for the fall 2019 semester), but Parkland posts scholarships throughout the academic year. The funds are there, just waiting for the right student to apply. Will it be you? Check out the tips for success below:

Searching Our Scholarships

Log in to your Parkland College student portal account and either select the "100-dollar bill" icon or select "Scholarship Search" under the Student Services tab. You will find a listing of all currently available scholarships; Parkland Foundation scholarship information will be posted along with scholarships provided by external organizations. You can also customize your search by selecting "Eligible Scholarships" from the drop down menu, based on the scholarship criteria you indicate.

Getting Help with Your Application

  • Most scholarship applications require you to write an essay, but don’t be intimidated! The Center for Academic Success at Parkland College in Room D120 includes a Writing Lab that is open and available to all students. Stop by CAS for free help from English instructors with any writing project you might have. For more information, visit D120 or log in to the student portal and select "Tutoring & Learning Assistance" under the Student Services tab.

  • Most scholarships also require at least one letter of recommendation. These should be from someone who knows you well, but not a friend or family member. Think of people who know your academic history, your work ethic, and your involvement in school and the community.  Give people plenty of time to write the letter for you.

Expand Your Search!

The student portal is not the only place you can find scholarships for the upcoming semester; high school guidance counselors are a great resource for finding local scholarships. Additionally, many employers offer scholarships to their employees and the family members of their employees. Be sure to check with any civic, community, religious, or professional organizations of which you or your parents are members. 

Finally, you can try reputable online resources for scholarships including Fastweb, CollegeBoard, and Keep this in mind as you search: A reputable scholarship organization will not ask you to pay a fee to apply.

Happy hunting!


[Haiti Eastin is a financial aid advisor for Parkland College.]