A grid of yellow balloons adorns the facade of the Fraser Street Parking Garage this month. The goal: To raise awareness of the 144 Pennsylvanians who die by suicide each month and encourage prevention efforts.
The Centre County-based Jana Marie Foundation worked with artist Will Snyder to create the temporary installation, called "save144," as part of Suicide Prevention Month. Yellow is the color for suicide prevention, and the balloons are arranged in a 12 X 12 pattern. Snyder said he had been thinking about the Fraser garage as a canvas for public art.
He said he was stunned when he learned that a suicide occurs every five hours in Pennsylvania, resulting in 144 preventable deaths every month.
"My hope is that this conversation would be brought to light, that love and purpose would abound, and that we could squelch that statistic," Snyder said. "If I could help that happen, I'll do my part. Let's save 144."
Marisa Vicere, president of the Jana Marie Foundation, said she believes the installation will encourage conversations about the importance of suicide awareness. The foundation -- which works to help young people make positive choices, practice self-respect and maintain healthy relationship -- was created in memory of Jana Vicere, who died by suicide in 2011.
The foundation worked with the Centre County Board of Commissioners and local municipalities to have September declared Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month. Sept. 10 was proclaimed Suicide Prevention Day in the County. A number of events are planned throughout the month to encourage conversations and awareness about preventing suicide.