URI to host suicide prevention walk, Oct. 16

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KINGSTON, R.I. – October 13, 2010 –University of Rhode Island students and surrounding community members will participate in an on-campus walk Oct. 16 for suicide prevention as part of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

The walk will begin at 1 p.m. at URI’s outdoor track.

Sarah Miller, URI coordinator of the Feinstein Service Learning Center and coordinator of the walk, brought the Out of the Darkness walk to the URI campus last year after a student attended the walk in Providence and asked to bring it to Kingston.

“The reason we wanted to bring the walk to URI or to any college campus, is because suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students. It’s something that isn’t talked about, but it can be prevented and needs to be brought up more,” said Miller. “With all the participants we had last year, we ran the largest Out of the Darkness walk in Rhode Island.

The walk encourages participants to make a donation to the foundation to help create and support programs to prevent suicide either through education or advocacy. Last year, more than 300 walkers were able to raise $8,500, and this year Miller hopes to raise at least $10,000.

“All the funds will stay local for screening, education and awareness programs for those who have mental illnesses that could be linked to suicide. The money raised doesn’t need to be used to find a cure since support, education and awareness programs are what help to prevent suicide,” said Miller.

While the Out of the Darkness walks invites all interested participants, the majority of walkers come from URI 101 freshman classes and Greek organization students. The on campus walk allows freshmen in URI 101 to learn about fund-raising and marketing and experience an event that improves their community as part of a required community service component. URI’s nine sorority houses are raising money and sending at least five participants from each chapter to walk.

“We wanted to participate in the walk because we are the at-risk demographic affected by suicide, either directly or indirectly. Suicide is a taboo subject, and raising awareness and getting Greek life open to it will help students,” said Adriana Misuraca, URI Panhellenic new member education chair.

“The foundation and issue are important because a lot of times mental illnesses, depression and suicide are things people are ashamed of or uncomfortable to talk about. The walk sheds light on the issue and shows college students and the general public that help is available,” said Miller. “For students to know there are resources that are available and that suicide is an issue that affects everyone despite their age, race, gender, or sexual orientation. For college students, especially since they are going through so many major changes at once, some feel like suicide is the only way out because they may not be aware of available support programs.”

Participants can register online until Oct. 15 or in person starting at noon, Oct. 16. Starting at the URI outdoor track, the 3-mile walk will be entirely on-campus and end back at the track. Donations can be made until Dec. 31.

For more information about the Out of the Darkness walk or the foundation, visit www.afsp.org.

This release was written by Alicia Blain, an intern in URI’s Department of Communications and Marketing and a public relations major.