By Rolando Rodriguez, Reporter
Waco is taking a stand against suicide and depression to bring awareness, promote safety and raise funds through their second Out of the Darkness Community Walk at 9 a.m. on Saturday in Brazos Park East. The walk will benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
The second leading cause of death for college students is suicide, and untreated depression is the leading cause of all suicides.
According to a presentation from Baylor, 17.5 percent of students have considered suicide at some point in their life. Since 2006, there has been one to two suicides per year at Baylor.
The Out of the Darkness Walk aims to unite people to raise awareness and funds that allow AFSP to invest in research, education programs and to support survivors.
“It creates a stigma free environment to someone who has lost someone to suicide or to someone struggling with a mental illness or depression,” said community walk chair Jennifer Warnick. “Some people shy away from getting help because they fear stigma is going to be placed on them. We’re trying to change that by sharing our stories.”
Baylor students can become more involved through AFSP by advocating, volunteering, donating, participating in the walk and by sharing their own stories of struggle or loss to open communication with those facing similar issues.
“You can be somebody that has lost somebody to suicide, someone that is struggling with depression, or you can just be supporting the cause,” said Warnick.
AFSP hosted the first suicide walk in 2004 where 4,000 participants registered in that year. In 2015, they are expecting a quarter of a million people to participate in community walks across the nation.
Last year was Waco’s first walk for suicide prevention. The central Texas chapter was able to raise $13,000 with 168 participants. This year their goal is to raise $25,000 before the end of the year.
A portion of the funding goes into research on understanding and preventing suicide through new forms of treatment, intervention, and prevention. Another portion of funding is set for establishing educational programs and promoting public policy to the government.
According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, 41,149 suicides were reported in 2013. Every 12.8 minutes, someone dies by suicide in the United States, making it the 10th cause of death in the nation.
“If someone is in suicide crisis or knows someone who is, they should call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK,” said Claire Idell, AFSP Texas Area Director. “They can also visit our website to access a crisis chat line and to learn more on how to help another person.”
For those interested in a setting closer to home, Baylor offers the Counseling Center where they offer assistance from individual counseling to crisis management.
Baylor’s different departments across campus come together to help students through some of their most difficult experiences while in college. Spiritual life is another department aimed to provide a strong support system for the students.
Registration for the Out of the Darkness Community Walk is open online or in person at the walk. Donations are accepted until Dec. 31, 2015.