URI to host 3rd annual Out of Darkness walk, Oct. 29

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More than 400 to call attention to suicide prevention

KINGSTON, R.I. – October 17, 2011 – University of Rhode Island students, faculty and staff will walk the Kingston campus Saturday, Oct. 29, to raise awareness of suicide, the second leading cause of death among college students.

The third annual Out of the Darkness Walk, which is part of a national campaign by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, will begin at 12:30 p.m. at the entrance to Keaney Gymnasium and run to 3 p.m. Registration is at noon.

For the past several weeks, student teams have been organized to raise funds for suicide prevention efforts. The walk is one of the community service opportunities arranged through URI101, the freshman seminar class, and URI’s Feinstein Center for Service Learning. About 400 walkers are expected to participate.

“College students need to be aware of the resources that are available to them,” said Sarah Miller, coordinator of the walk and the Feinstein Center. “It is also important for us as a campus to talk about anxiety, depression and other mental conditions that can cause suicidal thoughts. As the URI Counseling Center staff has said, “URI students can be first responders when it comes to watching out for themselves and their friends. If students have the awareness about suicide they can help prevent it.”

In addition, individuals from area communities who have been affected by suicide will take part in the walk.

In the United States, a person dies by suicide every 15 minutes, claiming more than 34,000 lives each year, according to statistics by the foundation and federal Centers for Disease Control. The Rhode Island community lost 96 individuals to suicide this past year.

With the help of student mentors, Miller has been busy planning the event, which she hopes will raise $10,000 in donations.

Students and members of the community can get involved by registering for the walk at http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=269740183047154 and clicking on the registration page.

A portion of the proceeds will go to the national organization, but “the majority will stay right here in Rhode Island and, more specifically, right at URI supporting an early alert screening system to help students,” Miller said.

This release was put together through the community service efforts of four URI101 freshmen students, Jill Laferriere of Coventry, Kelsey Quinn of Killingly, Conn., Emily Manis of Brick, N.J., and Derek Butler of Newport.