Rally brings issues to forefront

By Kia Smith

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 [email protected] on Twitter at @KiaSmith__ or 536-3311