On this coming Sunday, April 30, members of the Canton community will come together to support suicide awareness at St. Lawrence University’s Out of the Darkness Campus Walk. The walk, sponsored by The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), will be one of hundreds taking place on college campuses across the United States. According to the AFSP, Out of the Darkness Walks not only bring attention to the issue of suicide, but also provide opportunities to “invest in new research, create educational programs, advocate for public policy, and support survivors of suicide loss.” As national suicide rates steadily increase, the recognition and support fostered through events like Out of the Darkness Walks is crucial. Suicide is currently the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, with 1.1 million attempts annually. However, the AFSP is working to combat this harrowing situation, aiming to reduce the current suicide rate to just 20% by 2025.
This year’s Out of the Darkness walk will be hosted by St. Lawrence’s Kappa Phi chapter of Alpha Phi Omega (APO). APO, a co-ed volunteer fraternity first established at St. Lawrence University in 1953, coordinates and participates in service events throughout the year, including Make a Difference Day and this year’s Autism Awareness Walk. The group hosted a similar Out of the Darkness Walk in 2016, as well. The fraternity is currently headed by Rachel Abrahamsen ’17, president, along with Hannah Sears ’17, vice president, Elle Gray ’19, treasurer, Jacqueline Dufour ’18, pledge coordinator, and Ashlee Downing, faculty advisor. When asked about this year’s walk, APO member Maxime Bost-Brown ’17 discusses the harmful stigmas associated with mental illness and suicide. “It’s important for everyone to recognize and support this event because suicide is something frowned upon, and hidden behind closed doors,” said Bost-Brown. “It’s imperative that we come together, raise awareness, and invest in research and education to advocate and support those who are survivors of suicide loss.”
Check-in’s for this year’s walk will take place on April 30 in the Winston Room of St. Lawrence’s Sullivan Student Center. The 1.5-mile walk will begin promptly at 10 a.m. and conclude at 2 p.m. Registration is both free and open to the public and all participation is highly encouraged. Online registration for the event can be completed by visiting the AFSP website, and must be completed by noon today, Friday, April 28. Registration can also be completed in person on the day of the event. Those unable to walk should still consider donating and attending the event to stand in solidarity with all those affected by suicide loss. Donations will be accepted through June 30.
For more information regarding this year’s walk, contact Downing at firstname.lastname@example.org or Abrahamsen at email@example.com.