AUBURN UNIVERSITY- On Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016, the Auburn community gathered on the green space to participate in the fourth annual Out of the Darkness walk. The walk is a fundraiser established by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in 2004 to produce millions for suicide prevention programs, unite people who have been affected by suicide and create communities that are smart about mental health.
Auburn raised $16,566, and 301 people either attended the walk or donated online. The walk featured a survivors tent for people to commemorate loved ones lost by suicide, a butterfly release to symbolize finding hope out of pain and Dana Roberts, a board member of AFSP, who provided a few words before the walkers began the slow 2-mile walk around Auburn’s campus.
Auburn University Student Counseling Services, Health Promotion and Wellness Services and Active Minds hosted the event. Auburn University Federal Credit Union and Dr. Ramesh Kannegenti of Columbus were recognized as two new sponsors for the walk this year. Auburn Student Government Association also provides support for the event each year.
Active Minds is a national organization dedicated to starting and continuing the conversation about mental health on college campuses. The organization provides education and is an information resource about topics pertaining to mental health and wellness, including suicide.
Dustin Johnson, Active Minds advisor and SCS counselor, said the organization believed it was important to call attention to the issue of suicide, because suicide is the second-leading cause of death among college students. Also, members of Active Minds have seen how suicide touches the Auburn community, both on and off campus in recent years.
“Our campus has made such great strides to improve its mental health awareness and resources over the past five years that I have been at Auburn,” said Johnson. “There is still a way to go, though, and I want to join students to make sure we keep moving forward.”
According to Johnson, the Auburn chapter was started in 2013 because of an Auburn student, who was grieving the loss of a friend to suicide, recognized that the stigma of mental health conversations was detrimental to his friend receiving the help he needed. He wanted to create a positive change on campus, and he formed the chapter.
Active Minds also partners with SGA for Mental Wealth Week during the spring semester to promote mental health through events such as National Day Without Stigma, National Depression Screening Day, National Alcohol Screening Day and much more.
Follow Active Minds online at www.Facebook.com/ActiveMindsAU and www.Twitter.com/ActiveMindsAU. To learn more about joining the organization please visit www.auburn.edu/AUinvolve or attend their open meetings on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. in the Student Center.
For more information on Student Counseling Services, please visit auburn.edu/scs.
Written by Rachel Littleton
Last modified: 10/31/2016