NEW YORK (February 25, 2021) – Suicide is the second leading cause of death for those aged 15-24. To help prevent this leading but preventable cause of death, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) has adapted the Out of the Darkness Campus Walks to virtual events, enabling young people to participate in various ways of their choice online and in other physically safe settings. Organized by students from schools across the country, these virtual walks will create a way for youth and young adults to raise awareness and funds to help combat this leading cause of death. To find your local event: afsp.org/CampusWalks.
“These events help inform our youth about mental health and suicide prevention, and create opportunities for connection. Research shows that staying connected is one action that helps safeguard our mental health and that reduces suicide risk,” said Robert Gebbia, AFSP CEO. “I’m grateful to the students who spend their time organizing these events, and raising awareness for suicide prevention. It is through their efforts that we can make a difference and save lives.”
The first event will be on March 13 and will continue throughout the spring with nearly 100 events planned nationwide. Each event will track participants by activity minutes logged, and feature an opening virtual program with speakers such as teachers, students, mental health clinicians, school administrators, and local AFSP chapter board members. It is common that during the opening ceremony, students will share their personal connection to the cause of suicide prevention, encouraging others to open up and showing that it’s okay – even healthy – to talk about mental health and suicide.
Many participants will wear different colored honor beads to signify their connection to the cause of suicide. Green beads represent a personal struggle. Teal beads symbolize support for someone who struggles or has made an attempt. Orange beads symbolize the loss of a sibling. Blue beads mean you support the cause of suicide prevention. These beads show participants that they are not alone in their experience.
To follow along with the participants as they make progress in this work, follow #OutoftheDarkness and #HopeWalksHere.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, and with a public policy office in Washington, D.C., AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. Learn more about AFSP in its latest Annual Report, and join the conversation on suicide prevention by following AFSP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.