Sunday, May 19, 2024

Campus stretches legs for suicide prevention cause

Out of Darkness walk participants wear colorful beads. Teal signifies support for suicide prevention, while other colors can honor a partner, relative or a friend lost to suicide. Beads can also signal the wearer’s own struggle with suicide.


By Kolin Kriner

Much of the SUNY Plattsburgh community joined together to help stop suicide by partaking in the Out of Darkness walk as part the second annual Self-Care Summit on Friday, April 26. 

The Out of Darkness walk, hosted in collaboration with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, rounded out a series of lectures, workshops, discussions and an anonymous letter reading on the topic of self-care. The Self-Care Summit was hosted by #HealWithIt, a student campaign for mental health and wellness awareness.

Kaliyah Green, a public relations major and member of #HealWithIt, explained that it is a campaign oriented in combating the term “deal with it,” often heard in conversations about mental health. 

#HealWithIt raises awareness for the Eight Dimensions of Wellness are physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, social, environmental, vocational and financial wellness. 

The walk began at the Amitie Plaza outside of the Angell College Center, continued down Rugar Street and wrapped around the Saranac River Trail, ultimately looping back to Amitie. Event organizer and community member Bonnie Black opened the event with a speech about suicide prevention and mental health. 

Black said she hopes that the conversation of mental health continues past the event.

“We hope this conversation continues not just today, but for a lifetime,” Black said. 

Student volunteers, especially those from Greek life organizations, aided in tabling, handing out bead necklaces and registering people for the walk. Either through community service or showing activism by partaking in the walk, students took part in supporting the movement to stop suicide — at a larger scale than the campus saw a year ago.

“This year’s total was at least triple from last year, and we hope it continues to grow,” Black said.

A major aspect of the message of this event was delivered through the use of different colored beads — each represents support to someone who may struggle with suicide. 

Missy Stolfi, the area director for American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, stressed the importance of these beads to the cause. 

“At our walks we wear honor beads in a variety of colors,” Stolfi said. “Each color represents our connection to the cause. It could be a relationship with someone who died of suicide or supporting someone who struggles with it.”

White beads are worn for the loss of a child. Red beads represent the loss of a spouse or partner. Gold shows the loss of a parent, and orange shows the loss of a sibling. Purple represents the loss of a relative or friend. Silver is the loss of a first responder or military personnel. 

Green represents personal struggle with suicide, and teal supports someone else who struggles or has attempted suicide. Blue shows overall support for suicide prevention, and the rainbow beads honor the LGBTQ+ community. 

The beads allow a level of vulnerability to the cause as it puts into perspective what others have gone through.

“It’s cool because it shows how people go through similar situations, and you really just wear your heart on your sleeve,” Stolfi said.

The plaza was packed with individuals and organizations from all areas of college life — Fraternity and Sorority Life, Plattsburgh State Athletics and academics. The initiative also invited the outside community.

“It’s really a campus-community event,” Black said. 


Jayne Smith

Student athletes and members of Greek life organizations walk down Rugar Street, holding signs raising awareness for suicide. They walked from the front of the Angell College Center, along Rugar Street, around the Saranac River Trail and back to the ACC.

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