More than 1,000 college students commit suicide every year. To raise awareness of this, Active Minds will be hosting the Walk for Life.
The event will take place from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 8, in the multipurpose gym in the Ewigleben Sports Complex.
“[It’s] to help raise awareness and share stories of those who lost loved ones to suicide in order to increase prevention,” said Ferris applied speech communication senior and Active Minds president Victoria Hudgins. “It is an event where students come together to support one another through hard times and learn to be a friend for those in need.”
Active Minds is a national mental health advocacy group with the goal of raising awareness and eliminating negative connotations around mental health.
“In high school, one of my best friends attempted suicide twice,” said Ferris social work junior and Active Minds event manager Johanna Vander Ploeg. “I didn’t hear about it until the second time when she was pulled out of school. But I didn’t know why. No one would tell me. I went a whole month not knowing where she was. When she came back and opened up, I felt guilty that I didn’t notice sooner. That really pushes me to make sure this event is successful, because it will show warning signs that I wasn’t aware of. If I knew about them, I could have helped sooner.”
The event will feature performances by the Vibrato Vibes and the Ukulele Club, as well as a representative from Step Up who will discuss how to be an active bystander.
“We host this event to show how everyone on campus is affected by mental health,” said Ferris elementary education sophomore and Active Minds recruitment chair Madison Baker. “No matter what field you go into, there is always going to be mental health behind it. Nationally, we host it to bring awareness to the conversation of suicide and mental health to prevent it.”
Ferris counselors will be at the event for support and just in case participants want to talk if the event becomes overwhelming.
“I’ve seen a lot of people who are close to me suffer from mental health and feel they couldn’t talk about it because of the stigma,” Baker said. “I love seeing the difference we make.”
The event is not raising money for a certain charity due to it being shortly after Relay for Life. However, Active Minds will be accepting donations to help bring Send Silence Packing to campus, a display of 1,100 backpacks representing the 1,100 college students that die each year by suicide.
“We’re trying to show students how important it is to never sit silently and always talk to someone when they need help,” Hudgins said.