Author Juliet Patterson discusses health and healing at recent WUmester event

Washburn University’s spring semester comes with a theme and a focus and it is called WUmester. The theme for spring 2023 is focused on health and healing. WUmester was created for the purpose of having an open dialogue across Washburn as a whole towards social change. Exclusive curriculum is offered each WUmester. Classes are created and professors will change part of their lecture to fit the focus of WUmester.

The first event of the WUmester was held on Kansas Day, Thursday, Jan. 26. Laura Murphy and Danielle Head, the directors of the Center for Kansas Studies, hosted the Kansas Day event in Henderson 203. Juliet Patterson, author of “Sinkhole: A Legacy of Suicide,” showcased her book via livestream. Patterson read an excerpt of “Sinkhole: A Legacy of Suicide” and explored a couple of personal truths.

“You know it’s kind of my belief, in America especially, that we’re not that good at allowing space for grief,” Patterson said. “We’re not very good at grief work.”

Patterson’s book recognizes healing from a legacy of suicide in her family. She shares the history of her family’s patterned suicide, grieving the death of her father and the process she had undergone to address her own mental health decline after her father’s suicide. Patterson displayed having a greater understanding of mental health and the words that others needed to hear.

According to Head, every year the Center of Kansas Studies hosts a guest lecture to celebrate the founding of Kansas.

“Her [Patterson] presentation dealt with some of the relationship to her family’s history related to suicide and mental health issues around that and her own sort of experience in connecting it to her own story and the landscape of Kansas,” Head said.

As an individual that has suffered from her own mental health, she has taken the steps towards healing. According to Patterson, she set out to learn more about her family history because she felt it was a necessity to grow as a person and to break her family legacy of suicide. Patterson talked about how learning the history of America and her own family history in Kansas helped her make the realization that there is no simple answer to suicide.


Edited by: Rakesh Swarnakar and LeSha’ Davis