URI suicide prevention walk comes at critical time

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Study shows suicide tops car crashes as leading cause of death

KINGSTON, R.I. – September 24, 2012 – Hundreds of University of Rhode Island community members will walk Sunday to raise awareness and money for suicide prevention just as a new national study says suicide now kills more people than car crashes.

The University will participate in its fourth Out of the Darkness Community Walk, Sunday, Sept. 30 from noon to 3 p.m. on the Kingston Campus. The program will begin with activities inside the URI Memorial Union Ballroom, 50 Lower College Road.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, which has held such walks around the country for years and is again working with URI’s Feinstein Civic Engagement Program, has emphasized during previous programs that suicide is the second-leading cause of death among college-age students.

Now, a new study published in the September issue of the American Journal of Public Health, says, “A global public health problem, suicide has emerged as the leading cause of total unintentional and intentional mortality in the United States, followed by motor vehicle crashes, poisoning, falls and homicide. Our findings that suicide now accounts for more deaths than do traffic crashes echoes similar findings for the European Union, Canada and China.”

The study examined cause-of-death data for U.S. residents from 2000 through 2009.

“Suicide prevention and awareness is now more important than ever,” said Sarah G. Miller, coordinator of URI’s Feinstein Civic Engagement Program. “With this latest news and awareness that suicide has for years had a terrible impact on college populations, we here at URI are proud to do our part to address this public health crisis. National reports have also shown that our returning service men and women are particularly vulnerable. Students campus wide and in some of our freshmen seminar classes have been working hard to raise money, along with help from our faculty.”

Miller said that while suicide is a serious issue, Sunday’s program will feature activities before the walk to get participants in a positive frame of mind. “We want our students to know that they are going to have a big impact on this issue and on mental health in general. First, they are going to be a major voice on the campus letting the depressed, despondent and suicidal know that they can get help. Second, they will be raising money for the national foundation, and most of that money in turn, will directly benefit our Counseling Center.”

The Out of the Darkness Community Walks are 3- to 5-mile walks taking place in over 250 communities across the country this year, with the proceeds benefiting the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. By walking in the Out of the Darkness Community Walks, the URI community joins thousands of other walkers nationwide to raise money for the foundation’s research and education programs to prevent suicide and save lives, increase national awareness about depression and suicide, and provide support for survivors of suicide loss. In deciding to walk URI participants are helping to make suicide prevention a national priority.

To register for the URI event go to http://afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.event&eventID=2021 . Once you have registered you will have your own personal fundraising page to help you with your fundraising efforts as well as watch your progress.

Online registration closes at noon the Friday before the walk. However, anyone who would like to participate can register in person at the walk. Walk donations are accepted until Dec. 31 2012.