“I lost my friend to suicide last week. I was completely numb for a day,” said Bikash Rumey, a freshman economics major from Kathmandu, Nepal.
Rumey unexpectedly lost a close friend and classmate from high school to suicide last week. It came as a shock because she had seemed so happy in school.
“We never know what problems people are having, even if they are close to you,” Rumey said. “That’s why we need more awareness about suicide. That’s why everyone should attend the Out of Darkness Community Walk.”
Approximately 42,773 Americans die from suicide each year, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), making it the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.
Furthermore, statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 2014 show that the second leading cause of death for people ages 15 to 34 years old was suicide.
With these statistics in mind and in honor of National Suicide Month in October, the Troy Regional Medical Center (TRMC) has partnered with Troy University, Trojan Outreach and other business sponsors to organize the second annual “Out of Darkness Community Walk.”
This event is aimed at raising awareness of suicide prevention while honoring those who have lost their lives to suicide.
Amy Minor, the event coordinator, had hoped to make the walk an annual event while overseeing the walk last year. After the positive feedback and participation from last year’s walk, Minor’s goals were exceeded tremendously.
“Last year, we had expected to raise $5,000 but we reached $20,000,” said Minor. “We have set the goal for $30,000 this year and hope to exceed it.”
According to Minor, 50 percent of the funds raised stay in Alabama while the other 50 percent go to the AFSP on the national level.
The money raised is used to fund research and to provide resources to increase awareness while promoting suicide prevention.
This past March the TRMC was able to hold two “Safe Talk” courses utilizing raised funds from last year’s walk.
“Together we can make a difference and bring awareness to a major cause of death in our state and nation,” Minor said.
The “Out of Darkness Community Walk” will take place on Sunday, Oct. 9, from 2 to 4 p.m. on the Troy University Track. There is no cost to participate.
According to Elizabeth Gerken, a graduate student in the clinical mental health counseling and psychology program from Midland and Trojan Outreach Coordinator, individuals can register for the walk, register as a virtual walker (for those who cannot attend the event) or make a donation by visiting http://afsp.donordrive.com.
Individuals can also register on the day of the event in person.
The walk will also provide an opportunity for those who have lost loved ones to memorialize by setting aside a designated area where families can display pictures and write notes to their loved ones.
“It allows families to have a time of grieving and fellowship with others who have lost family members,” said Minor.
In addition, the names of those who have passed away will be read aloud during the walk.
Trojan Outreach, the Troy East Central Mental Health Clinic, chaplains from the community, guest speakers, and several other resources will be onsite the day of the walk. There will be activities for children, music, food, beverages and a butterfly release to conclude the walk.
“We invite everyone to participate in the walk. Fundraising is important, but just being there to support and encourage others is what matters more,” Minor said.
Struggling students can call the national suicide prevent hotline at 1-800-273-TALK, which is available 24 hours a day for anyone in need of help at no cost, or contact the Student Counseling Center at (334) 670-3700.