The Health and Wellness Center will be hosting the fourth “Out of the Darkness” walk this Saturday. Registration will be free and begins at 8 a.m. outside Doc Bryan, with the walk beginning at 9 a.m. Tech students can swipe in from 8:30 – 9 a.m.
The two-mile walk will focus on raising money and awareness for suicide prevention. Kristy Davis, associate dean for student wellness, will co-chair the event with Tonya Gosnell of St. Mary’s Turning Point.
“We want to fight suicide and support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s bold goal to reduce the suicide rate 20% by 2025,” Davis said. “We hope that individuals and teams will raise money towards the cause, but it’s not required to participate.”
The event has drawn a crowd in the past, with Davis reporting around 200 walkers in past years.
“We’d really like to see more students get involved,” Davis said. “We’ve had great participation from the River Valley community and we’ve had a small group of students who participate. But we’d really love to see more students become involved.”
Participation is very important to Davis personally as well.
“This event is very important to us on the Tech campus and specifically to our staff in the Health and Wellness Center,” she explained. “We see students dealing with depression on a daily basis, and we want to do everything possible to support them and help them find a renewed hope for living.”
This year, the walk will be altered to honor the memory of those lost to suicide.
“We unfortunately lost a student to suicide in the past year, and we want to honor this student’s life and prevent other deaths by suicide,” Davis said. “I would encourage anyone who’s lost someone to suicide to participate in the walk. It can be a very healing experience and a way to contribute to suicide prevention efforts.”
Donations made to the AFSP will all be designated for suicide prevention efforts.
“Suicide is currently the leading cause of violent death in Arkansas,” Davis explained. “Arkansas is currently ranked tenth in the nation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in suicide deaths per capita. This is especially important to us at Arkansas Tech because suicide is the second leading cause of death for college -aged students.”
The AFSP holds walks at college campuses all over the country, but in 2016, Tech’s walk was the sixth largest walk in the nation. According to Davis, the walk raised $21,593. She hopes to continue rising in the ranks, as Tech ranked tenth both years prior.
For more information or to create a team, register to walk as individual, or donate money, visit www.afsp.org/atu.