This week is Suicide Prevention and Awareness Week. The Vision has made this a special topic and will spend the week highlighting resources and people on campus who are here to help. If you or someone you know is struggling, call the Suicide Lifeline at 988 or reach out to Belmont’s Office of Counseling Services.
Belmont security officer Tiffany Cooper has a sleeve of tattoos on her left arm, and in the middle are those two words written in black ink.
“That was his handwriting from a letter. So I always carry it with me,” she said. “It’s like he’s there with me.”
Her husband Paul Cooper died by suicide 14 years ago.
For the past few years, Tiffany Cooper has been on a crusade to honor her husband and the thousands of others like him who took their own lives.
She knows the statistics.
Nearly 46,000 people died by suicide in 2020, and 1.2 million people attempted, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among college-aged students, suicide is the second leading cause of death.
Cooper was adamant on bringing Out of the Darkness, a walk to raise awareness for suicide prevention, to the campus where she works.
The walk will take place for the first time on Saturday around campus and through the surrounding neighborhoods.
It will be the culminating event of Belmont’s first-ever Suicide Prevention and Awareness Week.
Cooper wants to use the walk to get students talking about suicide.
“Knowing someone is in that much pain and that we can maybe offer a little bit of help and help them understand that they’re not alone, that’s the biggest thing,” she said.
After his death, Cooper left the police force where she and her husband worked.
She wanted change of pace and a sense of community.
She found it at Belmont.
“Belmont wants to help. You don’t get that a lot, but it’s a family,” she said.
Chief of Campus Security Pat Cunningham said Cooper embodies the Belmont spirit.
“I think she’s always looked for opportunities to be supportive, not only to students but to our fellow officers and staff who may encounter challenges in their personal lives,” he said.
Cooper wants to be that light she needed 14 years ago.
“If I can stop someone from feeling that pain,” Cooper said. “That’s all it takes.”
PHOTOS: Courtesy of Tiffany Cooper
This article was written by Sarah Maninger