To some, this may be a lot of time. To others, it may seem insignificant in the midst of a very busy day.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) estimates that every 12.8 minutes, someone in the United State dies by suicide.
On Saturday, May 2, Springfield College will host its first ever Out of Darkness Walk for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in hopes to spur a conversation about one of society’s most taboo subjects. Registration for the event, which will take place on Black Track, will start at 9 a.m., with the walk itself beginning at 10.
Sean DeMartino, who is in his second year of the Counseling Psychology doctorate program, is a co-chair of the planning committee for the Walk. DeMartino described participating in his first Walk a few years ago at his undergraduate university after learning of suicides that took place in both his university’s city and his hometown. Most recently, he participated in a local Walk.
“I participated in the Springfield, MA Community Walk in September and saw how much support there was locally,” DeMartino said, “but also realized that Springfield College did not have a campus walk organized. What appeared to have made the campsu walk successful was the fact that it was student driven, so it was important that a student group was actively involved in organizing the walk.”
DeMartino organized the walk with fellow Springfield College students Nicole Nelson and Kristen DeAngelo. DeMartino said he hopes to create the type of community interaction he found when he first decided to participate in the event.
“My hope is that the walk will help to bring students together to show their support to those who are experiencing suicidal thoughts and other related issues, such as depression,” DeMartino said. “My hope is that the walk will also help to provide information and resources to the campus community.”
DeAngelo is the president of the Psychology Club, which is partnering with some of the College’s Psychology doctoral students. She said she hopes the Walk will help to erase some of the stigma surrounding mental health.
“If we can get even a few people talking about it, we are making a difference,” DeAngelo said. “Out of Darkness Walks also serve as a support for survivors of suicide loss. The emotional toll that suicide places on loved ones is significant, so providing support for those dealing with that loss is important.”
According to the Walk’s Facebook page, over 100 participants in the Springfield College community have already raised over $5000 for the AFSP. Students and faculty, however, will still have the chance to register both in person and online. Students can register in the Union from 12-1 both today and tomorrow, and can sign up online through noon tomorrow through the Walk’s Facebook page and through the webpage for the Springfield College Campus Walk. According to the page, donations will continue to be accepted through June 30.
No matter what reason a person may have for walking, organizers hope that this event will shed light on an issue often shrouded in darkness.
“Our hope is to get as many people walking and supporting the cause as possible,” DeAngelo said. “And we don’t want it to end there. We want walk to participants to walk away on Saturday with a desire to spread the word and make an impact.”