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Local News

Joliet Junior College group dedicating bench to remember suicide victims

Honors society to dedicate permanent reflection spot

Members of a Joliet Junior College honors society are raising awareness about suicide and will unveil a permanent place of reflection on campus this month.

“Darkness into Light” will include a presentation inside the Black Box Theatre on the JJC campus, as well as the dedication of a concrete bench, plaque and mosaic to remember loved ones lost to suicide, according to a news release from the school.

“Suicide isn’t just something that you see or hear in the news media; this is a real thing happening to real people,” said Joseph Lyle, president of JJC’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter, the group organizing the event. “This event is a way to bring light to that entire situation.”

Previous PTK members spearheaded the project, and it continued over the years through various fundraisers and coordination with community partners. Joliet cement business Unit Step prepared a 600-pound bench, which has been installed near the Picnic Grove section of the main campus.

Kylie Jump, the chapter’s vice president of public relations, designed the mosaic, which Joliet artist Mike Zagar is creating. These items, along with a plaque, will be unveiled at the dedication event.

“While it’s a difficult topic, there’s a lot of help available for people with these kinds of problems. We hope this event will make everyone a little bit less afraid to talk about it,” said Marlo Avers, vice president of outreach for PTK.

Marc Kaufman, JJC assistant professor of English and PTK’s faculty adviser, said the group is proud to offer this gift to the campus. “Darkness into Light” will be at 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Sept. 26.

Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk is scheduled to speak briefly at the 2 p.m. ceremony. Both begin at the Black Box Theatre in the K Building, and then will move outside for the bench dedication.

Community members and those who suicide has affected are encouraged to attend. There also will be a candlelight vigil ceremony after sunset at 7 p.m.

Phi Theta Kappa is the international honors society for two-year colleges. Students qualify by earning a 3.5 GPA or higher in college-level courses. The JJC chapter has earned the organization’s top level five-star distinction, reflecting its research and service projects.

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