The overall goal of the Out of the Darkness campus walk held last Saturday, May 1 was to bring suicide out of the Darkness and into the light. The money raised will benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students and the third among adolescents between the ages of 17 and 24, said first-year visual arts and graphic design major Lynda Hartley.
“The more that people are aware of such a devastating epidemic the more they can help and prevent,” said Hartley.
Hartley said he believes that the walk has a greater impact then people really think.
“When students see a big procession through campus they are naturally curious as to what is going on,” said Hartley. “Even if we don’t get them all to come to the walk, we can still impact and make them think.”
The Out of the Darkness walks are just a small part of the grand picture. The money they raise goes into research to help the future, said Hartley.
According the AFSP website, the foundation, which was founded in 1987, is one of the leading national, non-profit organizations that uses research, education and advocacy to understand and prevent suicide. The founders of this organization were shocked by the rise in numbers of suicide and felt that it was necessary to take action.
AFSP is working to educate the public through workshops, website, and videos . The website has numerous resources for the general public, schools, colleges and health institutes. The AFSP also plays a large part in the aftermath of suicide. They have support groups for families and friends who have lost loved ones to suicide and workshops on coping with the pain. There are also groups for those who have survived the pain of suicide.
Third-year graphic design major Dennis Yu also participated in the walk. He alone raised around $250. Yu hopes that this walk shows people and locals that there are people who care about those dealing with depression.
“I hope the walk raised awareness for suicide victims and I wish people would take hints of suicide seriously,” said Yu. “If I do not see the signs of a suicidal victim, I want to make myself available for those who are on the verge of taking their life.”
Yu became involved with the cause after speaking with many friends who had become depressed. He believes that by becoming involved with the AFSP, he is able to show people he is here if they need him.
“I believe that you are able to prevent suicide if you see the signs of depression before suicide,” said Yu. “I want to show that anyone can be a victim of suicide and people should care because you cannot gain a life once it’s gone.”
According to the captain of the team for the walk, Charlene Martoni, a total of $1,462 was raised. The people who participated walked in honor of lost loved ones, or were survivors of suicide; there were also people there who were “touched by the ripple-effect that suicide often creates.” Between 20 to 30 walkers participated.
Walkers and volunteers met outside of the Athletic & Wellness Center where registration took place. Food was offered and informational pamphlets were handed out as music played. Martoni and Nicole Giordano of the Psychological Counseling Center spoke about signs and causes of suicide. Jackie Northaker, who lost her best friend to suicide, shared her experiences as well.
Professionals from OASIS/Haven set up a table to speak with anybody who needed to talk. Participants walked around campus. Upon returning, a raffle took place. Donations came from Barner Books, Manny’s Art Supplies, The Gilded Otter, and Rhineback Artist’s Shoppe. Finally, biodegradable balloons were let go and bubbles were blown in memory of those lost.