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Oct 27, 2016 08:08 AM EDT

University Of Alabama Sorority Homecoming To Raise $17k For Suicide Prevention

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A sorority group from the University of Alabama has decided to forego their longstanding homecoming tradition this year. They will be raising money to help prevent suicide in college instead.

USA Today College reported that University of Alabama's Kappa Alpha Theta chapter usually saves about $2,500 from its budget to create a "pomp" or a decoration made from tissue paper every year. This décor is set to be displayed on campus during the week-long celebration of homecoming. This tradition is also popular at other large state universities such as the University of Missouri and Oklahoma State.

"The theme for homecoming this year was 'leaving a legacy'," Elizabeth Aune said. "We wanted to find a way to leave one we're proud of."

The cause is close to the women of Kappa Alpha Theta since one of their own sorority sisters, Megan Rondini, committed suicide last February. Rondini was a passionate animal activist and aspiring veterinarian.

"Girls I didn't even know had ever talked to her had a story to share about her," Aune said. She was one of Rondini's best friends. "She made me laugh like no one else could."

The University of Alabama sorority wanted to honor the life of Rondini as well as the over 1,000 college students who commit suicide every year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people aged between 15 to 24 years old. This is why the women of Alabama's Theta chapter aim to make other students aware of the issue and how to prevent it.

The group donated their pomp fund to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). They also created a giant chalkboard display that is dedicated to suicide awareness where students could write the names of the people they lost.

According to Psychiatric Times, alcohol use often leads to suicidal behaviors. A study has found that there is a strong association between alcohol use and increased suicidal attempts. Loneliness and social hopelessness have also been determined as an additional risk factor.

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