In 2019, Lynn Luckey Moody ’93 lost her battle with mental distress and chronic illness. She left behind many who loved her, including her husband Scott Moody ’91 and their two children, Elizabeth and Marshall.
To keep Lynn’s memory alive, her family created the Lynn L. Moody Endowment for Mental Health and Suicide Awareness, which supports programming to help members of the CofC community — faculty, staff and students — recognize the signs of distress, know the resources available and seek the support they need.
“The endowment is a way to honor my wife, Lynn, by continuing her desire to support the emotional and mental health of young people at a place she loved — the College,” says Scott.
Under the guidance of Rachael McNamara, director of the Office of Wellness and Well-being, the Lynn Moody Fund offers year-round mental health and suicide prevention training. Students, faculty and staff learn how to identify mental health distress in others, learn how to initiate conversation and intervene, and help people develop the mindset to seek assistance.
“Through the Lynn Moody Fund, we have been able to implement programs to help members of our campus community become better at recognizing severe emotional distress and suicidal signs,” says McNamara. “People who undergo training also develop techniques to provide support to those who are struggling, which in turn helps reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.”
In its first year, the Lynn Moody Fund has already made an impact on campus. The Office of Wellness and Well-being held seven Help a Distressed Friend events with around 170 participants and a Suicide Awareness event with around 300 participants. The office also reached out to more than 190,000 students via social media.
Jordan Twitty ’24, a public health major, interned with the Office of Wellness and Well-being and served as a facilitator at the Help a Distressed Friend events. In addition to helping during the event, her responsibilities included conducting a pre- and post-test to gauge a participant’s knowledge of the topic and how to approach someone in distress.
“Going through the process of helping someone is emotionally challenging,” says Twitty. “We had some participants get very emotional, so we would have to take a break to let them get their thoughts together.”
As a Student Ambassador at the College, Twitty sees firsthand how important it is to destigmatize mental health as something to discuss.
“These are important conversations to have because college is a lot,” she says. “Students are pushed academically, socially and mentally. Destigmatizing mental health barriers helps students share their concerns with people they trust and receive the help they need.”
Twitty also facilitated the Suicide Awareness Event, which she said students loved. “They felt they had a way to give themselves grace and appreciate where they are in the moment. Often, they realized they are exactly where they need to be.”
For Twitty, it’s all part of breaking down that judgement barrier. “Often people view suicide as the problem, but for that person, suicide is the solution,” explains Twitty. “When someone feels free to share without judgement, the person might feel safe to open up to a friend or loved one who can then help connect the person with specific resources that can address the underlying problems in addition to the suicidal thoughts.”
Scott is proud of what Rachael and her team have achieved in the first year with funding from the Lynn L. Moody Endowment for Mental Health and Suicide Awareness.
“I hope the College’s alumni, parents, professors, staff and the community recognize the amazing impact we can have on students’ lives by focusing on their mental and emotional health,” says Scott, who encourages others to support the endowment.
“The world in which we live requires the efforts of everyone,” he adds. “Creating and supporting the endowment is crucial to ensuring the lifesaving programs Rachael and her team provide now and their future services.”