NAMI, Glow Walk for Suicide Prevention

Supporters wear shirts remembering people they have lost.  /J. Desmond Slattery

NAMI, Glow, the personal counselling department, and others once again held the annual suicide prevention walk on April, 28.

A crowd of around 60 of mostly non-WCC students gathered together to walk to end suicide, many of whom had been in some way affected by the death of a loved one.

Suicide is a social taboo that penetrates into every corridor of humanity. Anyone, regardless of sex, race or age can arrive at a place where they feel they are beyond help and ultimately take their own life.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), suicide was the tenth leading cause of death for all ages in 2013 in the United States.

The CDC also reported that men are four times more likely to commit suicide than women, representing just over 77 percent of all suicides. However, women are more likely than men to have suicidal thoughts.

“The percentages of adults aged 18 or older having suicidal thoughts in the previous 12 months were 2.9% among blacks, 3.3% among Asians, 3.6% among Hispanics, 4.1% among whites, 4.6% among Native Hawaiians/Other Pacific Islanders, 4.8% among American Indians/Alaska Natives, and 7.9% among adults reporting two or more races”, according to the CDC in 2013.

The big question is, what can we do to end this difficult to detect mindset that too many people find themselves in?

One group that exists to fight against suicide is the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). By hosting fundraising events called, Out of the Darkness Community Walks, they are able to fund research for suicide prevention, create and distribute education programs, advocate for public policy and support survivors of suicide loss.

WCC’s walk took place around the campus and within the Student Center.

Beads were used to identify each person’s personal connection to the cause to help bring people together. Nine different colored beads were present, each representing a different connection to someone impacted by suicide or simply the desire to support the cause.

This is the third year in a row where WCC has hosted this event. It all started when a student approached Kristy Robinson, who is the Acting Director of Personal Counseling, and asked if they could host a suicide prevention walk on campus, to which she responded, “absolutely.”

The event raised just under $12,000 and all of the funds go to the AFSP.

“It certainly has a big stigma attached to it,” said Robinson when asked about mental illness. “I think changing it starts with having conversations and doing things like this and just talking about it. There is so much power in just asking the question “are you okay?”

When asked why he took part in the event, Anthony Gunzl, a student at WCC said, “it’s a serious topic in our community and it’s important to raise awareness and get more resources.”

Awareness of the causes of suicidal thoughts and how to recognize signs of suicidal behavior is paramount in the ability to helping those in need.

The best way to address the often undiscussed issue of suicide is to be aware of the signs and to remain vigilant of those who may need help and to be proactive in providing the care they need. The AFSP’s efforts make this possible and help make a dent in bringing these issues out of the realm of taboo and into a place where they can be addressed.

“I’m thrilled with how today’s event went. Every year it gets bigger,” said Robinson, “We’ve had so many people from the community come together today and it’s really a joy to see everyone come together like this. Food, community organization, students, families, and staff members were here. I really love this event and I think today was a big success.”

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