National Suicide Prevention Month: Mental health speaker to present ‘Who Moved My Happy’ at MSU next week

Environmental portrait of Erika J. Kendrick
Erika J. Kendrick (Submitted photo)

Contact: Anna Owens

STARKVILLE, Miss.—An acclaimed author, former Chicago Bulls cheerleader and national speaker will share her story of suicide survival and offer a message of hope at Mississippi State during National Suicide Prevention Month.

Erika J. Kendrick will speak about her personal experiences as a woman of color who overcame bipolar disorder to help individuals examine their own mental health and open a dialogue about suicide prevention through her mental fitness workbook “Who Moved My Happy?” Her campus presentation of the same title is free and open to all at the Colvard Student Union’s Foster Ballroom next Tuesday [Sept. 24] from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Mississippi State’s Department of Health Promotion and Wellness is the major sponsor.

During her time as a Stanford psychology major, Kendrick was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and clinical depression and placed in a psychiatric hospital after a suicide attempt. Now, she shares her experiences through a national speaking tour, incorporating her personal testimony. After her recovery, Kendrick went on to obtain her Master of Business Administration from the University of Illinois. Additionally, she published three novels after her stint as an NBA cheerleader and currently is working on her memoir.

Kim Kavalsky, staff counselor and outreach coordinator at MSU’s Student Counseling Services, said the presentation is a good opportunity to address how mental health issues and suicidal thoughts impact people of all ages and races.

“We typically think of white men as those with the highest risk,” Kavalsky said, “but suicide affects all groups, including people of color. It’s important for us to shed light on that, especially since there’s so much diversity at MSU.”

In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 445 suicides in Mississippi compared to 383 cases the previous year. On a national scale, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention found Caucasian males accounted for 69.67 percent of 47,143 total suicide deaths across the United States in 2017. Additionally, the AFSP estimated 1.4 million Americans attempted suicide in the same year.

Kendrick said she hopes “Who Moved My Happy?” provides students with the tools to lead a happier life and help normalize attitudes toward mental health and suicide prevention.

“People used to tell me to ‘Snap out of it,’ or ‘just get over it,’” Kendrick said. “It’s taken me far too long to talk about it because of the pervasive stigma that exists in our communities.”

MSU’s Student Counseling Services provides a variety of free mental health solutions for current students, including individual and group therapy, workshops and specialist referrals.

For more information, contact Kavalsky at 662-325-3158 or

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

Monday, September 16, 2019 - 3:27 pm