By Samantha Snead
Chief Copy Editor
On the morning of October 10, Roanoke College students and faculty gathered on the Back Quad with members of the community for the Salem/Roanoke “Out of the Darkness Walk” to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. There were about 700 walkers registered this year which is a twofold increase in participation from last year and nearly $20,000 was raised.
The Salem/Roanoke chapter’s walk was sponsored by Roanoke College, the Salem Sheriff’s Office, the Salem Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and Oakey’s Funeral Service and Crematory. Dozens of teams were created, and the community’s top six teams each raised over $1,000. Some of the top teams on campus were Alpha Sigma Alpha and Gamma Sigma Sigma, raising $1,195 and $1,070, respectively.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is an organization that supports survivors of suicide loss, advocates for public policies on both the state and national level that relate to suicide prevention and mental health, creates and distributes educational programs, and funds research for suicide prevention. The AFSP has set the goal of a 20% reduction in the annual suicide rate, which they hope to see happen by 2025.
Afsp.org,the official website, offers resources for those who are grieving a loss, concerned about their friends, family, or peers, or those who are struggling with suicidal thoughts themselves. The foundation works to achieve its mission through its Five Core Strategies, which focus on funding scientific research and enacting social change through educating the public as well as professionals.
In the 28 years since its founding in 1987, the organization has helped connect people across the country who have lost loved ones to suicide, while also providing resources to thousands of at-risk individuals and educating the public about suicide prevention and appropriate ways to discuss suicide in the media. To date, 80 chapters of the foundation have been established in the U.S., each one working toward raising awareness in their own communities.
Though many of the teams in the Roanoke region have surpassed their initial goals, further donations will continue to be accepted until December 31. Net proceeds from the walks go toward enacting the foundation’s Core Strategies nationwide.