The University of Maine at Presque Isle will hold a suicide awareness walk on campus from the Campus Center to Gentile Hall on Wednesday, Dec. 6 at 6 p.m. in recognition of the pain suicide brings to Maine and the community. Anyone from UMPI or the community is encouraged to attend this free event.
Out of the Darkness is a national event put on by organizations and schools around the country from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. People who walk at the event share stories from their lives when they were affected by suicide or just participate to show support for the cause.
Globally, among young adults ages 15 to 24, the rate for suicide has tripled since the 1950’s. For that age category, 12 people will commit suicide in one day, or about one death every two hours. Roughly two-thirds of students who are struggling with mental illness do not seek treatment; many may feel alone and do not seek help.
On average, one person dies by suicide roughly every 37 hours in the state of Maine and suicide is the 9th leading cause of death overall in Maine. In addition, the state has a higher suicide rate, at 16.54 people per 100,000 residents, than the national average, at 13.41 per 100,000 people.
“I hope people will attend this event and show support in the awareness for this topic. Suicide has touched many lives near and far, and, here in Presque Isle, it’s important that we connect with those around us,” Violet Washburn, UMPI Coordinator of Campus Engagement and International Student Services, said.
There will be luminary bags decorated around campus prior to the event. Once participants walk to Gentile Hall, they will be able to display their own luminary on the floor, in the shape of a ribbon, in memory of loved loves lost. During this time, professionals will be speaking about suicide and suicide awareness. At the end of the ceremony, students and community members will be able to take a balloon, walk outside, and release it into the sky. Some people will do this in memory of an individual who has died of suicide or been affected by depression and mental illness. For others, it will symbolize their willingness to take the subject of depression and suicide into the light and help those in need.
“My hope for people attending this event is that they take away the idea that depression and suicide are not always a choice. There are days when you are going to feel helpless and alone, but there are resources out there to help you. There are friends, family members, and even community members who are willing to help, you just have to want the help,” Victoria Studholme, UMPI student and event co-organizer, said.
For more information about this event, please contact Studholme at 207-877-1600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.