Break the silence

By: Riley Holcraft 

Suicide is no new phenomenon and the public has become virtually desensitized to its effects with a surge of TV shows, celebrity attempts and news reports.

Stories like this come and go but rarely do people stop to think about those affected. Volunteer State Community College partnered with The Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network by hosting its first annual Break the Silence event dedicated to lives touched by suicide.

On Sept. 20, at the Humanities Plaza, a small group gathered to discuss suicide within the community. The ceremony opened with a song performed by Vol State Students, Kendahl Oakley, and Cole Harper.

Quilts with pictures of suicide victims in Tennessee and pinwheels with names of suicide victims connected to Vol State students were on display. Many of the pinwheels had repeating names.

Oliver Graves, Vol State Student and Spectrum club leader explained the meaning behind the repetition, “When someone commits suicide, not just one person is affected,” said Graves.

Graves had personal experience with a suicide attempt six months after coming out as gay.

“forty percent of LGBT youth have either attempted or contemplated suicide. It is not a joke,” said Graves.

Oftentimes, suicide is overlooked as “selfish” or “overrated.”

However, TSPN Volunteer, Teresa Culbreath explained, “No one is immune.”

The effects of suicide spread to a wide community of individuals, and suicide attempters often have no refuge.

Culbreath lost a brother and husband to suicide, so her personal experience has inspired her to bring awareness to others.

“Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network has three main goals when it comes to dealing with suicide: intervention, prevention, and postvention,” said Culbreath.

The best way to implement these goals is by making others aware of available assistance and educating the public of warning signs.

“I have had personal, lasting effects from suicide after my sister attempted. If I could let the student body know one think about suicide, it would be: learn the signs,” said Vol State student, Crystal Hutchins.

Warning signs include: talking about death, withdrawal from social activities, behavior changes, giving away prized possessions, and drug abuse.

The most important thing to do when encountering these warning signs is to approach the affected person with compassion and notify someone of greater authority. It is important to never belittle the feelings of someone who feels hopeless.

Samantha Nadler, a devoted wife, and mother, also shared her personal experience with suicide. She had made several attempts throughout her lifetime and is now an advocate dedicated to helping those that struggle with suicide.

Nadler explained that along with knowing warning signs the most important aspect of suicide prevention is a community. “Community matters. Connections with other people matter,” she said.

Most suicide attempts are related to ending a lifelong pain, emotional or physical. A community typically serves as a buffer between the pain and the thoughts of death. Nadler explained how her community of suicide preventionists “ended up saving my life.”

The event closed with a reflection time. All attendees were offered a small container of bubbles that read “Break the Silence.” Each person thought of a person who is currently affected by or struggling with suicide and blew the bubbles in their honor.

September is Suicide Awareness Month. Students, you are urged to take notice of what is happening around you. Be aware, be compassionate.

In 2016, Tennessee lost 1,110 people to suicide and the number continues to rise. It is happening in your state. It is happening in your community. It is happening in your school.

Help is offered on the school website; students can also be connected with an experienced counselor on campus. If you are in immediate need of help, call the suicide prevention hotline: 1-800-273-8255.

 

Building credit for the first time

By Sara Keen
Recently, I found myself in desperate need of a new car, and unfortunately I needed a loan to purchase anything for transportation.
Loans require a credit history, which is based on previous transactions, such as credit cards, car loans or even apartment rentals.
One recurring thing that I heard and read when I was working on starting my credit was the one thing that tends to scare us: the credit card.
As Judy Woodard of Macon Bank and Trust explained, credit cards are basically a recurring credit. Each month, it reports that you owe and have paid on (hopefully) your credit limit.
For example, each month someone may have $600 reported and “paid for” to build your credit history based on their $600 credit limit.
There are many different credit cards available, featuring cash back rewards, travel miles, and even some breaks for certain people.
If you are a student, for example, you can most likely apply for a student credit card. Many of these offer cash back rewards for buying gasoline, going out to eat and using popular shopping websites or stores.
Student credit cards also typically offer cash back or miles for good grades. For example, Discover It Student Cards offer $20 for a GPA of 3.0 or higher, and Capital One has a student Journey card for those who like to or need to travel to receive help from their GPA.
Students can also try what are called secured credit cards.
“A secured card is backed by a cash deposit you make up-front; the deposit amount is usually the same as your credit limit,” according to nerdwallet.com.
Secured credit cards are meant specifically for those wanting to build credit, and the down payment is used as a collateral if a payment is missed.
For those who have trouble saving up with a typical savings account, you may also look into a credit-builder loan.
The loan, in this case, is held by the lender until you pay it back, making it a good way to “save” some money by investing it into a larger sum for later on.
“It’s a forced savings program of sorts, and your payments are reported to credit bureaus,” added nerdwallet.com.
For bigger loans, you can also look for a co-signer. A co-signer is a person who signs with you on a loan to help pay it off if you find yourself unable to do so.
However, not every person wants to risk their credit to help someone else build credit. It is important that you establish yourself as dependable and keep up with your payments if you have a co-signer. They “put their credit on the line” to help you.
Co-signers tend to be the family of younger people. As I mentioned before, I needed a car and had little-to-no credit whatsoever, so my mom co-signed my loan.
This means that if I fail to make my car payment each month, then it falls on her to take care of it.
Building your credit is a very lengthy process, and there are some hurdles to jump before you get there. However, it does pay off long term when you need a car, are looking for an apartment or even looking to purchase your own home.
It is good to begin young and build a strong credit history, so that you are not stuck needing credit in the future.

Spooky Story Contest first place winner is…

Student Submission
Hare’s Race
by Bianca Riddle

I make it here before her. At dusk. There’s a haze of yellow just above the tree line in the distance.
If you’ve watched her long enough you’ve picked up on her habits, if you’ve followed her pattern. We’re both creatures of habit; she has her routine and I have her. Adeline will jog for about four laps and walk two. She’ll pass me six times tonight. She’ll come in the park carrying two water bottles. She’ll walk the whole length of the park once, dropping off her water bottles in the grass, behind the benches towards the two entrances of the park. I’ve thought about how easy it would be to slip something in her water. But I won’t. I sit at the eastward entrance on the bench farthest from where she’ll drop off her water. I don’t want to startle her.
I sit on the bench, finishing off half a sleeve of crackers before she comes round.
My chest twists in knots when I finally see her. Tight grey capris, bright yellow jacket. Sleeves bunched up. Her curly red hair in a ponytail. Freckles crawling up her arms. She’s listening to Roxanne. She’s a huge Police fan. She sets her bottle down. I take advantage of her being distracted. I wave, she mimics without hesitation, and when I’m out of her peripheral I wipe my sweaty palms on my jacket before pulling out my Canon Powershot. The first few photos are out of focus; of her shoes, socks, and the backs of her calves. Practice shots. Accidental. But the frame crawls up her back and I get pictures of her long spindly hair.
The palm of my hand itches when she jogs by the bench. Pinned hair swaying back and forth, swiping over the shoulders of her soft eece jacket. She doesn’t see the camera. She doesn’t stop for a drink of her water. She smiles at me though. She ashes that beautiful smile at every stranger. She’s an angel. I confess my love to her from my place on the bench; loud enough for her to hear if she weren’t listening to music.
I can’t explain what it is that puts these thoughts in my head. Where it stems from. It could simply be that Adeline is a beautiful woman. Those doe-y blue eyes. …I want to feel her breathing next to me. I don’t intend to harm her. I just want her next to me. I can hear her humming before she passes me for the third time. I lower my camera again. This lap it’s Barenaked Ladies. Next it will be techno electronica or Coldplay. She dashes past me. “I love you Adeline Phisher.” I repeat loudly.
I love you.
I LOVE YOU.
She stops, one water bottle in hand. She’s on her cool down lap. This is my opportunity. I don’t feel the cold air. Adrenaline is fizzing underneath my skin. I stand up and grab the tennis racquet from the dirt ground underneath my seat.
She stands after tying her shoe, both bottles in her arm, and I crack her against the temple with the old racquet. I found it in the garage. I brought it for this moment. This memory. She takes a nasty fall. I take my place beside her on
the ground.
Once she opens her eyes I look into them. I can see the starry sky mirroring
in the corners of them. I lean in and brush my knuckles against her cheek. She withers away from me. “I won’t hurt you Adeline.”
I must’ve rattled her good. Blood’s pouring from her head and back into her hair. I didn’t mean to hit her hard. I reach out my hand and press my palm to her collar bones. She’s still breathing. It’s tiny.
I look back up at the stars. “I’m glad I could spend time with you.” I confess. We lie there on the warm orange pebbled sidewalk. She’s closed her eyes. Her hair smells as nice as I thought it would. Like cinnamon. Ginger. The Dave Matthews Band is playing loudly from her headset. I know the kind of music she likes.
I snap a photo of us. Together. Nothings more important than this moment with her.
These fickle fuddle words confuse me Like ‘will it rain today?’
Waste the hours with talking, talking These twisted games we’re playing This is all I wanted.
We’re strange allies With warring hearts –
All I’ve wanted.

The Spooky Story Contest runner-up is…

Faculty Submission
Demon in My View
by April Young

He was on the bathroom floor when I got up that morning—not him, really, but the swirls on the tile hinting at the black-and-white pictures I’d seen, the thick wave of dark hair, deep circles under the eyes, the coarse mustache.
“It is time, Annabell,” he announced, his voice raspy with disuse. “Today we begin!”
I shrieked and reeled backward, and the tile swirls vibrated with his laughter.
I ed the house in terror, but I hadn’t really escaped him. As I dove into the driver’s seat of my car, I found him on the steering wheel, a bit clearer now, the tan leather revealing his sunken cheeks and rounded chin. He hurled demands as I drove, urging me to press harder on the gas pedal, to ignore each red light, to nd my destination. I tried to fight him, but it was useless; he murmured a hypnotic chant that stripped me of control.
I’d only driven a few miles when he ordered me to turn down an unfamiliar road which ended at a gravel lane. Icy fingers of fear clawed my throat. “This isn’t where I work,” I protested weakly, even as my hands turned the wheel and my tires bounced over gravel.
“Your errand is long overdue,” he snapped. “Here—this is the place. Out!”
A white Victorian loomed in front of me. My legs shook as I approached the porch. The doorbell chimed through the front hall before I realized I’d pushed it.
“What am I doing here?” I gasped, willing my leaden feet to run away.
When the door opened, I was relieved—and then horri ed. A woman stared at me, her smile taking up most of her face. Instead of smiling back, I snatched at her brown hair, jerking her outside.
Her screams matched mine and shattered the peaceful morning air, but he was shouting louder than both of us. His voice rang out clearly now, so strong it pulsed through my body. Two words, over and over again, tore through my brain: “Do it!”
In anguish, the woman lashed out, raking her nails across my arm. The slight trickle of blood seemed to wake me from a stupor, and I released the child and stumbled back to the car.
His outrage was so great that it pulled the air from my lungs. I drove home in blind terror, and all the while he swore in strangled rage.
“Curse the Conqueror Worm!” he spat. “Heaven hath me not in its sacred keep these 176 years!”
I hid in my bed, the door locked and the blinds drawn, for days. I didn’t sleep, for he taunted me every hour, railing against my weakness. I lost the will to question him, to beg him to end my torment. At times, he was quiet—only to start anew just as I’d begun to believe he’d gone. I’m certain I tried to resist, but I cannot recall it now. Nearly two centuries of fury, of mourning the ruin of his legacy, had given him bitter determination.
When vitriol failed, he moved to poetry, calling me Annie and tempting me out of my gloom with the promise of rest. What else could I do but submit?
Some nights later, as I lay there still, the skies opened, unleashing a rare October storm that bathed my room in light. I opened my swollen eyes and heard a new sound, melodious and enticing, and I strained my ears to decipher the
lyrics.
“Ah, the crisis—the danger is past, and the lingering illness is over at last,”
he crooned. “And the seraphs will not be half so happy as I when we are through.
Up!”
A giggle escaped my lips as I made my way back to the Victorian on that
gravel lane. A ash of lightning cut the clouds and rested upon my arm. The thin scratches of days before had become an angry red tattoo, his mien now fully formed upon my fresh, and I knew what I, Annabell Poe, was to do: avenge myself—and him, oh, yes, I’d avenge him—for that hateful travesty of slander.
Ravens circled the darkened sky above me, heedless of the slashing torrent, as I mounted the steps and rang the bell. He and I were outside of space and time now, but the family was inside; I could hear their unsuspecting laughter over the thunder.
“It was lies, all lies,” he hissed from my skin. “Purloiner, philanderer, abuser, executor—ha! My executer! Now he shall cry perennial tears from that unmarked tomb!”
Just as the front door opened, I peered through the black; the mailbox at the end of the lane filled me with fresh anger, for it had no right to exist. Together, he and I would rectify the injustice, eradicate the hated name—Griswold—from the tortured earth.
Morning had broken by the time I left the house, and he allowed me a moment’s satisfaction—but it quickly dissipated when I thought of the work left to do. Until I had driven the last Griswold to awful eternity, he and I could rest— NEVERMORE!
Author’s note: Since 1849, Edgar Allan Poe has been unable to speak for himself. He could not have had a more mendacious, perfidious, and unctuous biographer than Rufus Wilmot Griswold.

Ben Troxler performs at Vol State

by Michaela Marcellino
Ben Troxler, Bass Vocalist, per- formed in a voice recital at Volunteer State Community College on Oct. 18. This performance took place at the Steinhauer-Rogan-Black Humanities Building and lasted from 2:30-3:30 p.m., and Troxler was accompanied by Matt Phelps on piano.
Troxler graduated from Vol State with an Associate Degree and from Austin Peay State University with a Bachelor of Science in Composition, and currently serves as the Director of Music Ministries and pianist at Glendale United Methodist Church, and is the bass section leader in the Sanctuary Choir of West End United Methodist Church.
This recital started with Troxler singing “Arm, Arm Ye Brave” and “Si, tra i cieppi” that are both writ- ten by George Frederic Handel. After the rst two songs, Troxler then sang Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “In diesen heil’gen Hallen” from “Die Zauber oete.”
I thought that those songs Troxler sang showed an upbeat mood which
I really like. I loved the way how the chords would change when Phelps would play the piano on “Si, tra i cieppi,” and also how calm and nice Troxler sounded when he sang “In diesen heil’gen Hallen.”
Troxler then performed Johannes Brahm’s “O wiist ich doch den Weg zurück” which had a much darker mood than the first three songs. Also he performed Jean Baptiste Lully’s “Bois épais” written by Jean Bap- tiste Lully and Gabriel Fauré’s “Les Berceaux.”
What I like about those songs is how emotional Troxler and Phelps sounded when they played those songs from Phelps’ piano playing and
Troxler’s singing.
After Troxler performed “Les
Berceaux,” Phelps played Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Sonata no. 2 in B- at minor, Op 39 in the second movement in non-allegro-lento.
Then Troxler sang a series of songs all composed by Aaron Copland to close the recital, and those songs were “The Boatmen’s Dance,” “Long Time Ago,” “Simple Gifts,” “At the River,” and “Zion’s Walls.”
I really enjoyed how uplifting these songs sounded in the recital, especially in “The Boatmen’s Dance,” which Troxler sounded con dent with his singing.
Annabelle Lee, former adjunct professor, said that Troxler and Phelps performed well in the recital, and that he performed the pieces effortlessly and communicated effectively with his audience.
“I thought that performance was
wonderful,” said Benjamin Graves, Assistant Professor of Music.
“Troxler and Phelps were fantastic in their performance, and I especially enjoyed the Brahms selection as well as the Copland songs, and even Phelps’ performance of ‘Sonata no. 2 in B- at minor, Op 39.
“ I loved how rich and warm Troxler sounded with his voice which made it easy to listen to for the audience, and kudos to Nancy Slaughter for hosting these wonderful musicians,” continued Graves.
“I thought this performance was well-done with Troxler’s spot-on and correct vocal technique and Phelps’ piano playing,” said Nancy Slaughter, Associate Professor of Music. “Troxler told me that it was great to perform at Vol State, and personally it was lovely to see him perform since he was my student in 1999.”