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Standing in Solidarity with Those Affected by Suicide

BU Student Government sponsors Out of the Darkness Walk Saturday

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BU Student Government offers an opportunity to stand in solidarity with those who have been affected by suicide by participating in the walk this Saturday.

BU Student Government offers an opportunity to stand in solidarity with those who have been affected by suicide by participating in the walk this Saturday. Photo by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Each year, suicide claims more lives than war, murder, and natural disasters combined. Here in Massachusetts, it is the 12th leading cause of death, and nationwide, it is the 2nd leading cause of death among those 15 to 34.

On Saturday, BU students will join together on Marsh Plaza for an Out of the Darkness Walk, sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) to involve youth and young adults in the fight to prevent suicide. The walk, organized by BU Student Government’s mental health committee, is a chance for members of the University community to stand in solidarity with those who have been affected by suicide and to eliminate stigmas associated with suicide and mental illness.

“Talking about suicide is not something that comes up in day-to-day conversation, for obvious reasons: it’s a challenging topic,” says Ramya Ravindrababu (CAS’17), cochair of the mental health committee. “A surprising number of students on campus have been affected by suicide in some way or another, and people really need an outlet to talk about it in a productive, nonstigmatized way.”

The AFSP reports that approximately 44,000 Americans die by suicide each year and that for each death, there are 25 unsuccessful attempts.

“In your four years here, you are bound to go through something, and it’s important to be able to talk to someone,” says Mina Botros (ENG’17), who proposed Saturday’s walk to the mental health committee. “If you feel like you can’t continue, there are people who can help and carry you through and get you the help you need.”

The goal of the walk, Ravindrababu says, is to “show people they are not alone and that there is a community here for them.” In addition to showing support and solidarity, the committee hopes to raise $5,000 for AFSP’s research and advocacy.

The hour-long walk will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday at Marsh Plaza, proceed around the Esplanade, and return to the plaza. Pizza and sandwiches will be provided after the walk, which is open to the public. You can register in advance online as an individual or as part of a team; donations are encouraged but not required.

“It is a great way to show support,” says Julianne Leber (CAS’18), cochair of Student Government’s mental health committee. “I think that overall it will be a very positive event.”

Organizers hope the event underscores the importance of reaching out to those in need of support. “If you see someone in need, talk to them for half an hour,” says Botros. “It can make the world of difference.”

BU’s Out of the Darkness Campus Walk is Saturday, April 22, from 11 a.m. to noon, starting and ending at Marsh Plaza, 735 Commonwealth Ave. You can register and donate online until noon on Friday or register in person at the walk. Check-in and in-person registration begin at 10:30 a.m. Donations will be accepted until June 30.

Those seeking free, confidential mental health counseling can contact Student Health Services Behavioral Medicine, available 24 hours for psychiatric emergencies (617-353-3569), the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation (617-353-3549), the Danielsen Institute (617-353-3047), and the Center for Anxiety & Related Disorders (617-353-9610). Faculty and staff with mental health issues can contact BU’s Faculty & Staff Assistance Office (617-353-5381). The Samaritans of Boston suicide prevention hotline is 877-870-4673. The Active Minds student support group is best reached through its Facebook page. For crises related to crime and interpersonal or sexual violence, BU’s Sexual Assault Response & Prevention Center crisis counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (617-353-SARP [7277]). If you, or someone you know, have questions about drug or alcohol use, Wellness & Prevention Services can help (617-358-0485). Students who require academic or other accommodations for a psychological disability can also consult BU’s Disability Services (617-353-3658). Accommodations and services could include testing modifications, reduced course load, developing skills in self-advocating with faculty, executive functioning coaching, and more. Services are free and confidential.

Liz Vanderau can be reached at vanderau@bu.edu.

1 Comments

One Comment on Standing in Solidarity with Those Affected by Suicide

  • Katharine on 04.20.2017 at 8:00 am

    It’s wonderful to hear about this important event being held at BU. Thank you to the Mental Health Committee of Student Government for working to destigmatize suicide on campus!

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