In 2019, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention ranked suicide as the tenth leading cause of death among all age groups in the United States. This April, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention will work towards lowering that deadly statistic with its annual event: The Out of the Darkness Walk.
The Out of the Darkness Campus Walk is being held remotely on Sat., April 17 and is connecting several college campuses across Western Pennsylvania, including Slippery Rock University, Chatham University and Duquesne University. Waynesburg University senior Ruthie Buser is this year’s campus walk chairperson for the Waynesburg University team.
“I first decided to join this Suicide Prevention group due to someone I knew who had tried to kill himself by overdosing,” Buser said. “I believe in the importance of promoting mental health and prioritizing mental health, just as we prioritize other areas of our health … This event is designed to bring awareness, hope and support to our campus and community members in regard to mental health and suicide.”
The event will open up with a virtual opening ceremony at 10 a.m. After that, participants can walk at any chosen location. Buser encourages participants to take photos and videos of their walk and tagging AFSP in the posts to raise awareness and support of the mission.
“I hope that through my involvement with AFSP, I will be able to help bring encouragement to at least one person who is struggling with thoughts of suicide or is a suicide loss survivor,” Buser said.
According to the AFSP website, participants are encouraged to do three things: Walk, talk and donate. Sharing personal stories or testimony is something that AFSP wants advocates for suicide prevention to do.
Participants are also encouraged to wear AFSP gear if they have it. Anyone interested in registering for the event or donating can do so here https://afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donordrive.event&eventID=7359.
AFSP will be partnering with the band Flintface on Friday for a virtual performance at 7 p.m. This will be a musical performance combined with a program about mental health and self-care.
“We have been working together, through emails and Zoom calls, to plan not only the virtual walk event, but also other educational programs, events and fundraising opportunities leading up to the walk on April 17,” Buser said. “Right now the most important thing is trying to spread the word about these events and get people registered for the walk.”