Nic Smith was a Sigma Pi member who was “loud, energetic and the kindest guy you’ll ever meet,” his brothers said.
Scott Olofson, Sigma Pi member and junior, said Smith, better known as Tex, was the type of person the other brothers knew they could always talk to.
“Tex always had his door open,” Olofson said. “If anyone needed to talk he was always the one, and you could just talk to him about anything.”
Smith took his own life in January after transferring home for the 2017 spring semester. Shortly after his death, Sigma Pi had a vigil for Smith and then organized “Stop the Silence,” an event to fundraise and spread awareness about mental illness.
Sigma Pi organized “Tex’s Barbecue” on Nov. 5 to raise money for the National Alliance for Mental Illness, Counseling and Psychological Services and the QPR Institute and to spread awareness about mental illness. The event raised about $9,000 to donate to these organizations.
Friends and family of Smith joined at the Sigma Pi house to celebrate his life and eat barbecue food. His brother, Stuart Smith, mother and stepfather, Suzanne and George Holland, came from Texas to attend the event.
The theme for the event was a Bob Marley quote, “Love the life you live. Live the life you love.”
Olofson and sophomore Michael Broodo, another Sigma Pi brother, said they chose a Marley quote and put an image of Smith and Marley on the event shirts because of the positivity Smith shared with everyone and the positivity surrounding this event.
“We wanted this event to be about positivity, not just happiness.” Olofson said. “So often people think that with mental illness, you can say, 'Don’t worry, be happy,' but you can’t because it’s so much more than that. We wanted positivity so people can know they always have support.”
Along with the fundraiser and barbecue, Sigma Pi also organized free QPR training. QPR stands for question, persuade and refer and is a suicide prevention technique.
Interfraternity Council chapters have organized a committee that just focuses on mental health and trying to lessen stigmas surrounding mental health. It focuses on ensuring IFC members are getting the mental health care they need and being able to see signs of depression or thoughts of suicide.
Sigma Pi plans on organizing another event to raise awareness surrounding mental illness again in the spring and then make this an annual event for Sigma Pi.
“There is this idea about mental illness and that we shouldn’t talk about it,” Broodo said. “People don’t look down on people with mental illness, it’s just that guys, especially in greek life, think they have this need to be macho and tough all the time, but if you live in a house with 100 other people, you always have 100 people you can lean on.”
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