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‘It’s okay to not be okay’-Counseling Center hosts Suicide Awareness Walk

By Carley Crain
@carley_crain12

Kristina Krull had a contagious energy to her. Curious, determined, and hardworking, Krull established herself as an exceptional student-athlete on both the women’s lacrosse and field hockey teams at Springfield.

But two years after graduation, Krull was gone.

“We heard a personal story of a teammate of a former women’s lacrosse player for Springfield College who took her own life a few years after graduating,” said Minds in Motion president Aly Coyle. “It was very empowering to hear this story and I think it is important to spread messages about this. It’s okay to not be okay, and even the most ‘successful’ people can be struggling.”

Suicide amongst college students has plagued communities across the country hard– this year especially. Name after name, headlines of suicides cram the news and social media. Springfield College isn’t excluded from these numbers.

Phillip M. White, an 18-year-old at the time, passed away in 2011 from self-inflicted injuries and was found unconscious by his roommate in Massasoit Hall. His death was sudden, and cast a long-lasting somber sentiment across campus.

In recent national news, suicides amongst student-athletes have been on the apparent rise; NEWMAC opponent Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), for example, has had an alarming amount of student deaths on campus since July. According to Boston.com, seven deaths have been reported, five of them being either confirmed or apparent suicides.

WPI students have noted that the immense academic pressure and the science-focused environment has pushed many to their breaking points.

The Springfield College Counseling Center is aware of the impact suicide has on college-aged students. For the first time in three years, the counseling center hosted its annual “Out of the Darkness Walk” in Blake Arena.

When students walked into the gymnasium, they were invited to take a colored bead of their choice that best represents their connection to suicide.

Nine colors were offered: white (loss of a child), red (loss of a spouse or partner), gold (loss of a parent), orange (loss of a sibling), purple (loss of a relative or friend), silver (loss of a first responder/military), green (a personal struggle or attempt), blue (supporting suicide prevention), and teal (a friend or family member of someone who struggles or has attempted).

To begin the evening, community members read poems and small posters about how suicide has affected the Springfield College community. Photographs of Krull were displayed. Staff members additionally spoke after about the subject matter, before asking the crowd to take a silent walk around the perimeter of the gymnasium.

Stations were set up as well that was a representation of each colored bead. Staff members encouraged the crowd to speak up about their experiences with each color if they felt comfortable doing so.

“Walking around to the different tables with beads representing different losses one has experienced with suicide was indeed emotional,” said Coyle. “Suicide has affected far too many people, but it was very important that people were willing to step up and take ahead as this helps reduce the stigma.”

The counseling center hopes that with continued awareness and events on campus, lives can be saved. Even just one life makes all the difference.

If you are in need of help, the Springfield College Counseling Center can be reached at (413) 748-3345. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number is 800-273-8255.

Photo Courtesy The Springfield Student

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