2nd annual suicide prevention walk to be held April 28

2nd annual suicide prevention walk to be held April 28

Rowan to hold 2nd annual suicide prevention walk April 28.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., claiming the lives of 129 Americans a day, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). On April 28, Rowan University will host a campus-wide walk to raise awareness about the issue and to highlight resources to help prevent it.

Event organizer Lindsay Johnson, a licensed professional counselor and outreach coordinator in Rowan’s Wellness Center in Winans Hall, said the second annual Out of the Darkness Suicide Prevention Walk will reinforce the message that it’s healthy to speak about emotions that can lead to thoughts of suicide because discussing feelings of sadness, depression, even suicidal thoughts, can help diffuse them.

“There’s a huge myth about suicide that if you ask someone about it you increase the risk,” Johnson said. “That’s simply not true.”

Johnson said one goal of the walk, which Rowan is hosting in partnership with the AFSP, is to reduce the stigma of discussing suicide, to bring the issue out into the open and “out of the darkness.”

“We also hold it for family and friends affected by suicide so that it can be a time to remember their loved one and come together as a community so that they know they’re not alone.”

Johnson said students often feel tremendous amounts of stress and that those feelings can be compounded, even if they’re doing well in classes and extracurricular activities, by the next goal they set, personal relationships, family health issues, finances and other factors.

She said Rowan offers a great variety of services and outlets for students including formal and informal therapy, fitness programs, yoga, meditation and more.

“At the Wellness Center alone we have individual and group therapy, workshops and skills classes addressing issues ranging from depression to relationships, LGBTQ support, grief and substance abuse counseling,” she said. “We also have non-therapeutic groups like Chill & Chat, a student-run group where students come together to simply connect with other students.”

She said SASS (Stress and Anxiety Student Support), another student-run group offered through the Wellness Center, provides stress management strategies.  Students can find countless avenues for stress relief at the REC Center including yoga, strength building, cardio workouts and intramural sports, and the Office of Social Justice, Inclusion and  Conflict Resolution offers meditation and mindfulness training, which can support overall well-being.

Johnson noted that practicing gratitude, exercise and helping others are all proven mood enhancers that ease symptoms of depression.

Last year’s Out of the Darkness walk drew more than 600 participants and raised more than $22,000 for suicide prevention.

Johnson said it is important to remember that suicide often stems from a temporary set of emotions and that it is not inevitable.

“Suicide is preventable,” she said. “Prevention means educating yourself, asking questions and getting someone the help and support they need.”

Rowan’s second annual Out of the Darkness Suicide Prevention Walk begins at 8:30 a.m. April 28 on the back patio of the Chamberlain Student Center.

Anyone experiencing acute feelings of distress who thinks they may hurt themselves should always call 911 or go to their nearest emergency room. For more information regarding specific campus services, visit the Wellness Center.