Shining a light

Ariel Ellis

Photo By shannon rooney

Ariel Ellis wants to help prevent suicide, especially among young people. The 19-year-old is in her second year of studying psychology at CSU, Chico, where she’s president of Active Minds, a campus organization dedicated to raising awareness about mental illness and mental-health issues. Recently, Ellis joined a committee that’s initiating a local chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), which holds suicide-prevention fund-raising walks throughout the nation. Chico’s Out of the Dark walk—aimed at raising awareness of suicide and depression in the community—will take place Oct. 16, starting from One-Mile in Lower Bidwell Park for a 5k loop around the park. Ellis and her committee members are still seeking volunteers and sponsors for the event. She can be reached at <script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">{ document.write(String.fromCharCode(60,97,32,104,114,101,102,61,34,109,97,105,108,116,111,58,97,101,108,108,105,115,49,49,64,109,97,105,108,46,99,115,117,99,104,105,99,111,46,101,100,117,34,62,97,101,108,108,105,115,49,49,64,109,97,105,108,46,99,115,117,99,104,105,99,111,46,101,100,117,60,47,97,62)) } </script> or 559-0392. For more info, see and

What will you do with a psychology degree?

I’m not sure—I just know I want to work with children and teenagers. I just love kids.

What are some statistics regarding suicide that people should know?

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for college students. One out of every four people will experience mental illness.

What happened that led you to want to help prevent suicide?

During my junior year of high school, one of my closest friends committed suicide. He was the funniest guy I knew—always smiling. None of us saw it coming. Ever since then, I’ve wanted to help people who feel as he did. During my senior year, I held a suicide-awareness night at my high school for my senior project.

How did you get involved with starting a local AFSP?

When I went online to register for the next Out of the Dark walk in Sacramento, I saw there was a possible new location [for an AFSP chapter] in Chico. I contacted the Nor Cal director and asked, “How can I get involved”?

What are some of your AFSP committee tasks?

I’m recruiting volunteers, getting people to register for the walk, and I’ve helped with organizational tasks, including sending letters to about 800 local businesses to request sponsorship.

How do Active Mind members conduct outreach?

We provide information about mental illness and suicide awareness at events and at the Free Speech area on campus, and we participate in the national Stomp Out Stigma Day, which is aimed at decreasing the stigma surrounding mental illness.