South Students Participate in Suicide Prevention Month
During the month of October, which is Suicide Prevention Month, Salem-Keizer students spread awareness about mental illness. This was done by participating in the Walk Out of the Darkness, making a wall of kindness, and planning to sell suicide prevention shirts.
On October 13, South students from the Saxon Strong and Progressive Activism clubs walked in the Walk Out of the Darkness to end the stigma around depression. This walk was organized by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention [AFSP]. At this event people walked from the Salem capitol building to Court Street. The goal was to show how many people are affected by suicide.
“This event made me think of all the people in my life who have been affected by depression and how little things can make a difference in someone’s life,” Diana Castaneda ’19 said.
Everyone at this event wore different color beads, to show their own connections to suicide. Although the event was free, walkers were encouraged to raise money for AFSP. If a walker raised $150 or more they were awarded with an official Walk Out Of the Darkness shirt. The goal of this event was to raise a total of $115,000 for AFSP. Donations are being accepted until Dec. 31 and they have already raised $62,000. This money funds suicide prevention research, education programs, public policies regarding mental illness, and support for survivors of suicide loss.
The suicide prevention club, Saxon Strong, was created after counselor Todd Bobeda went to Health 1 classes, and taught students about suicide awareness. Students such as Madeline Gertenrich ’19 and Mariana Rey Rosa ’19 helped the club by attending monthly meetings in the library and selling purple Saxon Strong t-shirts. These t-shirts raised money for families affected by suicide.
“There’s a lot of different things we put in place to try to save people but the truth is it comes down to kind words, love, and connection with a person, so they have someone to rely on,” Bobeda said.
Due to recent tragedies in the community, South class presidents started a wall of kindness, which is located by the upper commons. Students were encouraged to paint their hands purple with a red heart in the middle and put it on the wall.
“Having been somebody who has struggled with moments of despair I can say that being surrounded by other people who are able to recognize that this is a serious issue and who want to acknowledge that we all are in this together,” Kudzai Kapurara ’19 said.
These acts of kindness and awareness by various students are trying to send a message that it is okay to admit to struggles with mental illness.
Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255