Williamsport – The design talents of three Pennsylvania College of Technology graphic design students are showing up on local billboards and in mental health awareness materials being distributed to local businesses.
As part of a suicide prevention campaign aimed at educating working-aged men, 25 to 60, the students’ skills were enlisted by the SPIRIT (Suicide Prevention through Information, Referral, Intervention and Training) Coalition, an alliance of campus and community behavioral health resources.
“The coalition felt it was important to educate and share help-seeking information with the Greater Williamsport community,” said Kathy W. Zakarian, director of counseling services at Penn College. “Working-aged men often have not acquired the knowledge, skills or motivation to seek help for themselves or for friends, co-workers or family members. The coalition identified this gap and created a marketing campaign to educate this at-risk group.”
According to the coalition, men die by suicide 3.53 times more often than women, and the rate of suicide is highest in middle-aged white men, in particular.
Students in ART 410, a corporate identity course led by Nicholas L. Stephenson, instructor of graphic design, produced branding for the campaign during Fall 2018. Three students’ designs were selected for use by the SPIRIT Coalition: Luke A. Bierly, of Centre Hall; Emily R. Kahler, of Pittman; and Daniel Mendoza, of Rhinebeck, New York. The students graduated in May with Bachelor of Science degrees in graphic design.
Bierly’s design, depicting a chair being put together, is featured on Lamar Advertising’s digital billboards as part of the South Williamsport company’s public service announcements.
Bierly’s design is also being used on small posters distributed to Lycoming County employers by the SPIRIT Coalition.
Kahler’s designs, focused on three construction-type signs, are showcased on small informational cards also being distributed to employers.
Mendoza’s creation was selected as the SPIRIT Coalition’s logo.
The coalition and its efforts are among the ongoing outcomes of the Garrett Lee Smith Campus Suicide Prevention Grant, a three-year grant awarded to Penn College by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2015.
Penn College has been engaged in a wide range of training and partnerships focused on best practices related to emotional health on its campus and in the community. Among them, the college recently completed a four-year partnership with JED Campus, a national mental health initiative.
In addition to Penn College personnel, the SPIRIT Coalition comprises community members from Lycoming College, The Vet Center, Diakon, West Branch Drug & Alcohol, Lycoming County Coroner’s Office, Lycoming County Health Improvement Coalition, National Alliance of Mental Health, and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Lycoming County employers interested in receiving information from the SPIRIT Coalition or registering for the coalition’s free, half-hour “Lunch & Learn” presentations offering information on suicide prevention and intervention in the workplace can contact Chet Beaver, SPIRIT Coalition liaison, at 570-320-5353 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Beaver also serves as coordinator of veteran and military services at Penn College.