By Richard MacTough
SC Staff Writer
On April 18 over 130 people participated in the Out of the Darkness walk, an event to bring awareness about the prevention of suicide.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention sponsors the walk at many college campuses. Students, Faculty members, and the community of Monroe County took part in the event.
According to the Pocono Record, 15 residents of Monroe County have ended their lives already this year.
In 2014, only 5 lives were lost in the first three months of the 2014. That is a tragic increase of 10 individuals who were not fortunate enough to get the help they required.
Before the walk, Jim Presto, a member of the Foundation, gave a very moving speech. The organization was created in 1987 by a group of people who lost loved ones to suicide.
The main goals of the foundation are fighting the stigma, remembering those who were lost, and preventing more casualties. Presto told the audience that we no longer need the word “commit,” because the victims didn’t commit a crime.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death in the nation for people ages 15 to 24.
“If you look at me, I’m actually a lot like you right now. I lost my 19 year old son to suicide last February,” said Presto. Many like him, were present in honor of people that they lost. The honored included family, friends, and neighbors of those in attendance. Though I did not know him, I was there to honor Kenny Baker, a young man who had a devastating story that left me deeply touched.
Kenny Baker was a high school student, in his senior year and ready to graduate. He suffered from anxiety & depression and took his own life.
The staff asked students and faculty members to put a sticker over his picture in the yearbook because they misconstrued what had happened and recognized him as an attention seeker.
A parent who lost her child to suicide said, “Help someone who you suspect is going through a hard time. I have a child who doesn’t get the chance to be married, have children, or live a happier life.”
The walk emphasizes the importance of educating students, staff, and parents about the hard realities of mental illness. It is about fighting the stigma.
The Active Minds Organization of East Stroudsburg University led the walk which began at the Science and Technology building and continued on through Prospect Street and around Koehler Fieldhouse.
Over 100 people marched through campus for the ones they lost, those going through mental illness, and the fortunate survivors of suicide.
Active Minds does not require psychology majors, and is open for students of all majors to join. They need new members to help fight the stigma. Meetings are every Thursday at 3:00 PM in Stroud Hall.
The walk is over but the community still has a chance to make an impact. The event has raised over $2,000 so far, and there is still time to donate before the deadline on June 30. You can donate by logging on to http://afsp.donordrive.com.
Choose to donate through a team or participant of your choosing, and enter the required information. Payment options are available through credit card, debit card, and PayPal.
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