NAMI Hosts Suicide Prevention Campus Walk
Attendees at the second annual Suicide Prevention Walk. (Photo: Freddy Velasquez)
For the second year in a row, the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) on Campus and GLOW co-sponsored a walk for suicide prevention at WCC on April 29. The “American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Campus Walk” provided support for those who have lost loved ones to suicide, with a number of activities taking place throughout the day.
Following a walk throughout WCC’s campus, attendees watched as volunteers spoke of their own personal experiences with suicide, before the names of people who have committed suicide—provided by friends and family members—were read aloud.
After the spoken word portion of the event, upbeat music was provided by WARY, while attendees blew bubbles provided by GLOW.
In total, the event helped to raise $6100—significantly more than the organizers’ stated goal of $5000—for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AMFS).
Personal Counseling Coordinator at WCC, Kristy Robinson, who was instrumental in helping to organize the event, called the walk a “huge success” and praised the student organizers for the time and effort they dedicated to planning it. Robinson also noted a larger turnout compared to last year’s walk.
“I liked dancing to the music while everyone was walking around,” Robinson said when asked which part of the walk she most enjoyed. “But hearing my students speak from their own hearts about their own experiences is just invaluable—it’s so moving.”
In reflecting on what she wished attendees would gain from the event, Robinson’s message was one of support and understanding.
“It’s okay not to be okay. You are not alone,” Robinson said. “There is a huge community of supporting people who are behind you throughout your struggle.”
This message of support was the theme of the day and was echoed by students in attendance, to some of whom the issue of suicide was a personal one.
“People are there for you and you should never feel alone,” said Evelyn Lua, a fashion merchandising major who recalled losing a loved one to suicide. “Look at all these people who might have lost someone, and we’re all here supporting that issue.”
Lua noted that the spoken word portion of the event was her favorite part, in particular appreciating the “emotional investment” of the speakers.
“I think it was great, we had a good turnout, it was a lot of fun, the food is great, and it’s for a great cause—what’s not to like?” said Ben Newbart, a mechanical engineering major. “I did really like the names of the loved ones being read out, I think that was a good way to do it.”
Newbart expressed his wish that attendees leave with an increased focus on their own mental health.
“The message that I want to get out is just ‘take care of yourself’ and that includes physical and mental health,” Newbart said. “You just have to make sure that you’re good.”
The walk, which was co-sponsored by two student clubs with several more represented, was the result of months of planning, which Robinson provided some insight into.
“There’s a lot of outreach involved,” Robinson said. “Reaching out to people who might be interested in coming—whether it’s students, faculty, or staff—we can all come together to support this cause.”