Rally brings issues to forefront

The question ‘’Can I live ?’’ is often looked at rhetorically. However, witnesses of Tuesday’s rally now have an answer.

SIU held its fourth annual Can I Live rally with an interactive march that took students through scenes of sexual assault, bullying and suicide.

Alumnus Ryan Reed, who survived a suicide attempt at age 16, created the event.

‘’I created this rally because I no longer wanted to give up on life, ‘’ he said. ‘’I knew people struggled with the same adversity, and probably asked themselves the same question.”

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reports that suicide is the tenth leading cause of death, and in 2010 someone in the country died from suicide every 13.7 minutes.

“I knew people needed outlets,” Reed said. “I knew people needed a space to deal with the issues they would otherwise suppress. I thought it was time for us to create our own answers to the question, Can I live?”

Chanel Harrison, a senior from Chicago, shared her experience with domestic violence.

“In order to be a survivor, you must first embrace the struggle.” she said. “There were plenty of stories I could have told, but I chose to share that one. Someone out there needed to hear that, I just hoped I could help them.”

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports every nine seconds, a woman is assaulted or beaten. It also reports one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.

Various stories throughout the rally left some students, including freshman, pondering their own lives. Marquise Gibson, a freshman from Chicago studying graphic design, was pleased with his first experience of the rally.

“The poets stuck out to me the most because of all their stories and inspiring words,” he said. “What they said really grabbed my attention and made me dig deep within myself, and helped me think about who I want to become.”

Older students like Brian Schuman, a junior from Elgin studying marketing, said they were pleased at the progression that the rally has made.

“The rally was very inspirational and moving,” he said. “The combinations of the speakers and performers really capitalized the meaning behind the rally. This year’s rally made me proud of the adversity I have gone through.”

Reed said he encourages those facing adversity to remember to never stop believing.

“The world needs you more than ever,” he said. “Satisfaction of life doesn’t come from change, satisfaction comes from the realization that change is possible.”

Kia Smith can be reached at ksmith@dailyegyptian.com on Twitter at @KiaSmith__ or 536-3311

Ryan Reed founded the ‘Can I Live Rally’ in March 2010.

Ryan Reed founded the ‘Can I Live Rally’ in March 2010.

Student march across bridge during the Can I Live Rally.

Student march across bridge during the Can I Live Rally.

Nicolette Shegog, left, a senior from Chicago studying journalism, and Marcus Sumrall, a senior from Chicago studying radio television and creative director of the Can I Live Rally, speak and act out personal life struggles and battles with suicide Tuesday between Anthony Hall and the Student Services Building. The rally was designed to allow students to share their experiences with one another and advocate programs for those dealing with suicide, depression, physical disability and many other mental and health related issues, according to the Can I Live website. Guest speakers and talents included Chancellor Rita Cheng, Dr. Beverly Love, Southern Illinois Dance Company, Essence and Vanity modeling and many more. The funds collected from the event will be donated to the Perry-Jackson Child Advocacy Center in Pinckneyville. Sponsors for the fourth annual Can I Live Rally include Residential Housing Association, Kampus Kuts Barbershop, Center for Inclusive Excellence and Disability Support Services. — Remy Abrought | Daily Egyptian

Nicolette Shegog, left, a senior from Chicago studying journalism, and Marcus Sumrall, a senior from Chicago studying radio television and creative director of the Can I Live Rally, speak and act out personal life struggles and battles with suicide Tuesday between Anthony Hall and the Student Services Building. The rally was designed to allow students to share their experiences with one another and advocate programs for those dealing with suicide, depression, physical disability and many other mental and health related issues, according to the Can I Live website. Guest speakers and talents included Chancellor Rita Cheng, Dr. Beverly Love, Southern Illinois Dance Company, Essence and Vanity modeling and many more. The funds collected from the event will be donated to the Perry-Jackson Child Advocacy Center in Pinckneyville. Sponsors for the fourth annual Can I Live Rally include Residential Housing Association, Kampus Kuts Barbershop, Center for Inclusive Excellence and Disability Support Services. — Remy Abrought | Daily Egyptian

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