When the balloon drops, 44 people will be dead

The end of the fall semester can weigh heavy on students, but graphic artist shows we’re all in it together.

Mike Moore

The end of the fall semester means two things to college students; final exams and Christmas break.

However, it’s these two things combined which can lead to stress levels peaking among students.

Cole Inkpen is a second-year graphic design student at the College of the North Atlantic, and for his final project of the semester he chose to shine a light on mental health.

“It all started as a class project for illustration,” Inkpen said. “We just had to make an infographic containing data from Statistics Canada about something.”

Inkpen’s art project filled the entire lobby at the Prince Phillip Drive campus.

The data Inkpen chose was about suicide rates in Canada and the timing for his project couldn’t have been better. The fall semester at CNA is slowly coming to an end, but Inkpen says mental health awareness is something that also hits close to home.

For Inkpen, home is the Burin Peninsula where there has been six suicides reported in the past 14 months according a CBC article.

“Out home a lot of people have committed suicide lately unfortunately,” he said. “I just want to make a difference and kind of bring light to the subject.”

Part of the display is a helium-filled balloon that when it deflates, will signify approximately 44 suicides in that time.

Cole Inkpen says he wants to make a difference with his art display. His mental health awareness exhibit is on display for two weeks at the Prince Phillip Drive campus. Mike Moore/Kicker

Ted Power, a guidance counselor at the college’s Prince Phillip Drive campus, says it’s always important to talk about mental health, and Inkpen’s art display helps keep the conversation going.

“The world of mental health and physical health, they’re both equally large,” Power said. “We know about physical health but we don’t recognize, sometimes, the magnitude of mental health.”

Power says he would like to see displays like Inkpen’s around each of the 17 campuses across the province.

“That current display is good because suicide happens, obviously,” Power said. “There’s about 42 to 55 people who die every year (by suicide in Canada), and a lot of times it’s because it wasn’t really talked about. People don’t seek help unless they know that there’s a problem, and they know that there’s help available.”

Power said he’s all about grassroots kind of initiatives.

“If somebody has an initiative, whether it’s a student or it’s faculty, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “If somebody has an interesting thing to put into the world, absolutely. It should be at other campuses right now. I can only speak for this campus, but it is a good thing. If it spreads then that’s excellent, because it should, because people need to talk about it.”

Inkpen says it’s as much about the message behind the display as it is about finishing a final project for his program.

“I was thinking if I’m going to make something, then I might as well use it for the college and put it somewhere so people can see it,” he said.

“There’s 18 panels in total,” said Inkpen. “There’s one panel there that you have to interact with and you have to write a positive message to brighten someone’s day. So I try to get people involved so they wouldn’t just walk past it. At least they’ll stop and think about it a little bit.”


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