April 08, 2019

SIU hosting suicide awareness and prevention event April 20

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people ages 15-24 and 10th overall, but Southern Illinois University Carbondale is taking action to address this devastating problem.

The university is hosting a special suicide awareness and prevention event on April 20. It will include a guest speaker, a walk and a variety of other activities to raise awareness of the issue and support suicide prevention efforts.

Suicide affects many families

“Suicide touches one in five American families,” Angela Peterman, a senior early childhood major and undergraduate worker in SIU’s Wellness and Health Promotion Services who is serving as chair of the walk, said. “We hope that by walking, we will draw attention to this issue and keep other families from experiencing a suicide loss. Our ultimate goal is to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide.”

Things start happening at 4 p.m.

One and all are invited to participate in the Out of the Darkness Campus Walk. Pre-registration begins at 4 p.m. near the front entrance of the Student Center.  

Also at that time, people are invited to visit the “remembrance tree” where they can take a packet of flower seeds, including such poignant plants as forget-me-nots, and in its place, hang on the tree a leaf bearing someone’s name.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) will have assorted T-shirts, bandanas, wristbands and other items for sale. Winston’s Bagels by B-Rad will also be on hand and there will be honor beads for participants, with various colors symbolizing the relationships involved with survivors, suicide victims and those struggling with mental illness.

Buckman will speak before walk

Matt Buckman, licensed clinical psychologist, will speak at 5 p.m., just before the walk begins. He will discuss suicide awareness and prevention, support for survivors, the need to reduce the stigma of seeking help for mental health concerns and deliver a message of hope and support.

Everyone welcome

The walk is organized by the Student Health Services and the Salukis on Your Side campus suicide prevention program, in conjunction with the AFSP. The walk is one of more than 550 held nationwide, uniting more than 300,000 participants and raising millions of dollars for suicide prevention efforts.

In 2018, about 200 people participated in SIU’s walk, raising more than $8,000.

Team captains and individuals may register in advance (until noon on April 19) at afsp.org/siu. Participants can also show up the day of the walk and participate. The walk will continue until 7 p.m. Pledges total about $3,800 already and organizers hope to top last year’s total and bring in $10,000.

Any participant who raises at least $100 will receive a free T-shirt.

Dogs are welcome at the walk, but organizers request that, to ensure the safety of walkers, no skateboards, scooters or bicycles be brought.

Vigil and counselors too

Counselors from SIU’s Student Health Services will be on site, offering support and help to anyone who needs it. After the walk concludes, there will be candlelight vigil in honor of those who have lost their lives to suicide and those who struggle with suicidal thoughts.

The walk serves a variety of purposes:

  • Increasing awareness of the terrible impact of suicide.
  • Supporting people who have suffered loss due to suicide.
  • Raising funds for research, educational programs and public policy advocacy.

Raffle benefit planned

A raffle is being held in conjunction with the walk as well. Numerous great prizes, including a wide variety of gift cards, services and products, are up for grabs.

Sponsors for the 2019 walk include: Southern Illinois Healthcare, Bomber Crew Tattoo, Dunkin’ Donuts, Centerstone, SIU Credit Union, E. Claire Salon and Spa, BPL Plasma, Rainbow Café, uBreakiFix, SIU Student Health Services, SIU Salukis on Your Side and The Varsity Center.

Additional details

For more information about SIU’s Out of the Darkness Campus Walk 2019 online or contact Angela Peterman at 618/536-4441 or angela.peterman@siu.edu or Beth Morrison at beth.morrison@siu.edu.