URI to host campus-wide initiatives to promote mental health awareness, suicide prevention

Big events are held to promote mental health awareness, suicide prevention 9th Annual 'Be 5k Run/Walk'

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Be 5K, URI’s race/walk for mental health awareness and suicide prevention.

The University of Rhode Island’s Feinstein Center for Service Learning will host the 9th annual Be 5K Run/Walk, one of the oldest and largest public campus-wide initiatives to promote mental health awareness and suicide prevention, Friday, Oct. 20 at 6 p.m. on the Quadrangle as part of URI Alumni and Family Weekend.

The first 200 people to register will receive a free T-shirt. The fee is $15 for students, seniors and military/veterans, and $20 for the public until Oct. 13. After that, the price will change to $25. Check-in and same day registration will begin at 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 20.  Register for the event online.

The Be 5K event is part of an overall campus commitment to build mental health awareness and resources. URI also hosted the 2nd annual Fresh Check Day on Wednesday, Oct. 11, and is now offering a new Mental Health First Aid training program for students, faculty and staff.

The Be 5K, URI’s race/walk for mental health awareness and suicide prevention, has raised tens of thousands of dollars since it was launched by the Feinstein Center for Service Learning nine years ago as an American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Out of the Darkness Walk. It has grown and adapted over the years so that all proceeds remain at URI to increase attention and support for mental health issues.

All proceeds raised from the Be 5k will go to the Heather Fund, which supports services of the URI Counseling Center. Josephine and Roger Vennewald started the Heather Fund in 1996 after they lost their daughter, Heather, by suicide while she was a senior at URI.

The event is also supported by MARCS (Marc’s Awareness and Research to Combat Suicide) Foundation. The 5K run was added to the original walking event, thanks to the efforts of URI alumni Robert “Bob” and Joy Abrams, who wanted to honor and memorialize their son Marc who died by suicide and to support the community effort at URI.

As always, a remembrance ceremony will be a central part of the event. Luminary bags will frame the finish line as evening sets in.

“We are excited about holding the event Friday evening of Alumni and Family Weekend, since we believe more alumni, students, faculty and staff will be able to participate,” said Sarah Miller, coordinator of URI’s Feinstein Center for Service Learning.

“It’s a somber topic, but this is not a sad event. I like to think of it as an encouraging and hopeful event, during which those who have lost someone to suicide can remember them and find community support, while at the same time, we can provide awareness and resources to those struggling and their family and friends trying to help them. The walk/run focuses on us all taking action to BE supportive, encouraging, understanding, present, mindful, etc. and helping others in the community. There will be music, information tables, glow bracelets/necklaces, and light race refreshments,” said Miller.

This event is made possible with support from the Heather Fund and the Be 5K, as well as support from the Feinstein Center for Service Learning, Dean of Students Office, Athletics, Counseling Center, Health Services, and the Psychological Consultation Center.

Alexa Stewart, intern in URI’s Marketing and Communications Department and Public Relations and Communication Studies Major, wrote this press release.