According to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide was the second leading cause of death for people ages 15 to 34 in 2013. On Saturday, faculty and students from Weber State University joined members of the Ogden community to walk for suicide prevention and awareness.
This is the second year that the “Out of the Darkness” campus walk has been held at WSU. Corbin Standley, a WSU graduate, both planned and chaired the committee last year that held the first walk and was also involved with planning this year’s walk.
Standley lost his older brother to suicide in June of 2010 and after attending a Survivors of Suicide Loss Day event, Standley was inspired to become more involved in suicide prevention.
“In Utah, suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students,” Standley said.
Last year, the walk raised $4,000 in donations from sponsors, as well as at the event and online. This year the donation goal was set at $5,000 and $3,000 had already been raised through online donations before the day of the event.
“All the money goes to help suicide prevention research and programming,” Standley said.
Donations will be accepted online through June 30. All money donated will be split between the local chapter and national organization of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Elvina Brechbill, a member of the Ogden community, said she walked in remembrance of a friend that had lost his life to suicide 50 years ago.
Brechbill said that she has struggled with the loss of her friend throughout her life and hopes that she will someday be able to reconnect with the family of her friend.
Brechbill hopes that events like these will continue to raise awareness of suicide prevention and the resources that people can turn to for help so that they do not feel alone and isolated.
In addition to the walk, the Shepherd Union was filled with booths from several organizations to help those struggling with suicide themselves or those who know someone that is struggling.
Participants were also given colored bead necklaces to wear that symbolized the person they had lost to suicide. Lynda Callister, a member of the Ogden community, was wearing a white necklace in remembrance of her son who lost his life to suicide five years ago.
“We walk in honor of my son who passed away when he was 20 years old,” Callister said. “We support prevention. It’s a wonderful thing and that’s why we are here.”
Callister and her family have attended both of the walks held at WSU as well as those held in Ogden and Salt Lake City by Nuhope. Callister said the walks help her feel like she is part of a solution to the problem.
“There’s nothing good about it, but we try to find that silver lining and how we can then help others who have had the same experience,” Callister said.
Jayson Stokes, the coordinator of the LGBT resource center at WSU, worked a booth at the event in order to help raise awareness of the issue of suicide specifically within the LGBT community.
“Suicide rates are unfortunately quite high in the LGBT community,” Stokes said.
For transgender students, it is nine times more likely that they will commit suicide than their non-transgendered peers.
“It doesn’t seem like there are words to talk about how important (suicide prevention) is,” Stokes said.
Stokes encouraged people to be mindful of people in their lives and remember that the resources are always available when needed and that suicide prevention and awareness is a topic that needs to continue to be talked about.