By Liam Reilly
On Tuesday night, March 28, at 6:55 p.m., the sunset soared across the sky over Springfield College. The beautiful image of bright colors painted together showed that light will always prevail.
Five minutes later, the Springfield College Counseling Center hosted its seventh annual “Out of the Darkness Walk” – an event to promote awareness about suicide prevention.
“We realized we had quite an outpouring of students that have been affected by suicide and are always worried,” said Associate Director of the Springfield College Counseling Center Gary Enright. “I like to think we’re much better than lucky to have a caring community. It really means a lot for people to reach out to friends that are struggling. Prevention is the key, and it’s also about getting the word out.”
As students walked into Judd Gymnasia they were greeted with a blue bead that represented support for suicide prevention, and a white sticky card to write the name of someone they lost to suicide. There were several tables containing different colored beads. Each bead represented the kinds of connections someone can have to suicide.
Before students and staff walked around the table, Pride women’s lacrosse senior Arielle Johnson gave a speech on the mental health struggles that student-athletes face, and how she’s looking forward to her role as an ambassador for suicide prevention.
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity, and it’s something I take a lot of pride in because my teammates and my family are what inspired me to become an ambassador,” Johnson said.
After Johnson’s speech, students and staff rose from their seats and moved around to each table. The room was silent, as players from the women’s lacrosse team alongside Enright spoke about what each color bead meant. While doing so, they encouraged those walking by to take a bead they connected with, and to tell the name of a person in their life who was lost to suicide.
Everyone then sat down to listen to former Springfield College student Ky Schroeher talk about how she lost her former teammate Kristina Krull to suicide.
Krull was a student-athlete on the women’s lacrosse team and field hockey teams. Schroeher described her as “passionate, loving and crazy hardworking. She was the best sister and greatest teammate we could ever ask for.”
However, two years after Krull graduated, Schroeher received a text from a former teammate saying “Kristina is gone.” She was hit by a shock of confusion. “Kristina can’t be gone.”
Schroeher spoke about the guilt she had faced about Krull’s passing. The questions of what if she reached out more, what could’ve she done to prevent it began to hit her. She spoke of how she learned to get past that guilt, and gave advice to handle that guilt of losing a loved one to suicide.
“You do not need to put that kind of pressure on yourself,” Schroeher said. “You did everything that you could’ve.”
Krull is remembered through Schroeher, the women’s lacrosse and field hockey teams and many, many members of her family and friends.
“Although we didn’t know her personally, the team is here to support her legacy and to continue our culture of showing up for each other in all aspects – on and off the field,” Johnson said.
The counseling center hopes that events like this and other forms of awareness will help bring light on a topic that has been kept in the dark for too long.
If you or someone you know is in need of help, the Springfield Counseling Center can be reached at (413) 748-3345. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline’s number is 988.