RIO GRANDE — This spring, individuals from throughout the University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College and the surrounding areas will come together to participate in the third annual Rio Out of the Darkness Suicide Prevention Walk.
Hosted by the Office of Accessibility and Mental Health Services, the event will begin with an opening ceremony at 10 a.m., Saturday, April 6, 2019 at the Lyne Center parking lot, with the walk kicking off at 10:30 a.m. This event supports the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s local and national education and advocacy programs and its goal of a 20 percent decrease in the annual suicide rate by 2025. Director of Accessibility and Mental Health Services at Rio Dr. Courtney Ruggles said the planning committee is dedicated to continuing to promote awareness for suicide prevention.
“The Out of Darkness Suicide Prevention Walks create conversations about suicide prevention awareness. People are coming forward to share their stories. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people aged 15-24 and the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, yet it is completely preventable,” Ruggles said. “We hope that by walking, we save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide. Raising awareness and educating the community on resources sets the standard for positive conversations surrounding mental health.”
The Rio Out of the Darkness Campus Walk is one of more than 125 Out of the Darkness Campus Walks happening nationwide this year. The walks unite more than twenty-five thousand walkers and annually raise over a million dollars for American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s efforts. The organization is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP works to create a culture educated about mental health through community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Ruggles said hosting an Out of the Darkness Walk on campus helps to continue promoting these efforts locally.
“The donations from this walk benefit AFSP’s efforts to increase mental health education and saving lives through programs, research and advocacy. Last year, Rio raised over $21,000 for the organization, which was more than quadruple the original goal. We’ve set the goal to the original $5,000 again, and we’re excited to see if we can surpass it again this year,” Ruggles said. “Community participation in these kinds of events is so important because it helps provide more mental health services to our own community. It brings awareness to suicide prevention, and lets people know that if they are going through a hard time, there are people out there who care, will support them and have resources to help them.”
Online registration closes at noon Friday, April 5, with walk-in registration beginning at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, April 6 prior to the walk. Pre-walk events will include a balloon release, face painting, food and a raffle. To register for the walk, please visit https://afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.event&eventID=5898. For more information on the walk or suicide prevention, contact Courtney Ruggles at (740) 245-7439 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Article submitted by the University of Rio Grande.