URI students, community members join fight against suicide

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Largest suicide prevention fund-raiser in R.I.

KINGSTON, R.I. – October 19, 2010 – The national news has been dominated lately by stories about college students and teen-agers committing suicide.

But University of Rhode Island students and community members walked together Saturday to support suicide prevention efforts and send messages of hope and love to those who might be contemplating suicide and those who have lost loved ones to suicide.

As part of an initiative by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, URI students joined others from around the state in the foundation’s Out of the Darkness Walk on the Kingston Campus Oct. 16.

Sarah Miller, URI coordinator of the Feinstein Service Learning Center and coordinator of the campus walk, said 349 participated in the walk, including students from 15 classes of URI101, an introductory course for freshmen that involves them in community service activities.

The walk raised $7,300, but Miller hopes the URI community and those who participated in the walk continue to raise money until Dec. 31 to reach the goal of $10,000. The walk raised $1903.50, and another $5,400 was raised online.

“We had a wonderful, spirited walk that brought great attention to the issue,” Miller said. “We not only provided messages of hope and support to our students, but we offered support to the wider community. People from around the state who had lost loved ones to suicide participated in the walk and were inspiring examples for our students.”

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students. Only car accidents claim more lives.

“I am very proud of our URI students, who created signs and proudly wore their URI T-shirts, jackets and sweatshirts to show their commitment to the cause,” Miller said. We ran the largest Out of the Darkness Walk in Rhode Island.”

Adriana Misuraca, a member of Chi Omega sorority and Panhellenic new member education chair, rallied sorority sisters to participate in the walk. The sororities raised $345.

“I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I signed up to participate,” the psychology major from Providence said. “It was a beautiful day to spend with friends and enjoy the event.

“Everyone who participated realized how important suicide prevention is,” Misuraca said. “You don’t realize what a difference you can make taking an hour out of your weekend and raising money and awareness for this cause. It felt good to participate in something charity related on campus. Since it was right here at URI, it made it easy and accessible.”

To make donations to the URI walk, please go to http://afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.eventDetails&eventID=1135&destination=E and click on “donate to this event.”

Photos courtesy of Sarah Miller