UMatter Alum Sparks Conversation with Hats for Suicide Awareness

Two University of Michigan students from Alpha Epsilon Pi found a creative way to raise funds and awareness for mental health challenges on campus. By selling customized hats, the pair raised nearly $1,000 for Friendship Circle’s UMatter.

“Your story isn’t over,” states the front of the hat. On the side, it reads “National Suicide Awareness Month” with a hotline number. For someone struggling with thoughts of suicide, this powerful statement could be the sign they need to seek help.

Jared Brecher and UMatter alum Jonah Stone launched the initiative out of their fraternity and sold the hats around the University of Michigan campus over the past year. Through partnerships with fraternity chapters at neighboring schools like Michigan State, the hats reached a wide audience.

“It was a hard year and everyone was in a weird headspace because of the pandemic,” said Stone. “Whether you related to it or not, it was an issue everyone could support.”

Stone’s passion for mental health causes began in high school when he got involved with UMatter, a Friendship Circle initiative powered by the Andrew Kukes Foundation for Social Anxiety that enables high schoolers to help their peers overcome stigmas and other obstacles related to mental health.

“I saw that [UMatter] was a group that was actually making a difference,” said Stone. “It ignited a passion in me that kids my age were having that important conversation.”

While in the program, Stone took on the role of major events coordinator for UMatter’s One Thing I Wish You Knew. The annual event amplifies voices in the community and how their attempts to overcome challenges have often felt isolating and alienating.

“Hearing the speakers telling their stories to hundreds of people in the audience, knowing I played a role in getting these conversations out there really meant a lot to me.”

Even after leaving for college, UMatter’s mission never left Stone’s mind. Brecher and Stone’s donation will help UMatter programming continue impacting teens in the community.

“Jonah found a remarkable way to continue supporting UMatter’s programming and mission after high school,” said Teen Director Rabbi Yarden Blumstein. “Mental health challenges are a major concern for college students. Jared and Jonah took UMatter’s mission on a college framework and started that important conversation on campus.”

Learn more about Friendship Circle’s UMatter.

For media inquiries, please contact Melanie Barnett at [email protected].

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