For the first time ever on a college campus in Connecticut, students walked to raise awareness and money for suicide prevention, as reported by Area Director of the Southern Connecticut chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Sharon Pelkey. Fairfield partnered with AFSP to bring the “Out of the Darkness” Suicide Prevention Walk to campus on Sunday, April 23.
The event was organized by Bailey Carroll ‘20.
“I’ve lost a number of people to suicide and I have dealt with a lot of people who have suicidal thoughts, so it’s something I’m very passionate about,” Carroll said about bringing the event to Fairfield.
She emailed AFSP and told them that she was interested in having a walk on campus. The foundation agreed.
The walk began in the Quad and went all over campus, through The Village, up to the Townhouses and around the Egan Chapel of St. Ignatius Loyola. Signs that had facts and statistics about AFSP, such as “ASFP is dedicated to preventing suicide through research, education, advocacy, and support” and “$500 trains a facilitator to run a support group for survivors of suicide loss,” were placed around campus and were picked up and carried by those participating in the walk as it progressed.
Individuals wore different color beads to represent why they were walking. White beads were worn in memory of a child, red in memory of a spouse or partner, orange in memory of a sibling, gold in memory of a parent, purple in memory of a friend or relative, silver in memory of a first responder or member of the military, teal for a friend or family member who struggles or has attempted, green for a personal struggle and blue to support the cause.
“I have a friend who committed suicide back in high school and when I saw this event happening on campus today I automatically thought of them and I felt like they would really appreciate me being here today,” said Monet Monterroso ‘18.
Monterroso believes that, in a suburban state like Connecticut, suicide is a hidden topic.
“Having a walk that’s out in the open in the middle of the street for everyone to see is something powerful that Connecticut doesn’t see a lot,” she said.
While some, like Monterroso, walked for friends, others walked for relatives, loved ones or even for themselves.
“I know people who are not only struggling with depression, but I also struggle with that as well and suicidal thoughts,” said Sarah Gedeon ‘19. “I think this was really important for me to participate in this walk. It really means a lot to me.”
The event ended up raising just over $2,000 and around 50 people turned out for the event, according to Carroll.
Pelkey, who spoke at the event, read the testimony of a woman who has struggled with suicide and who is on the Board of Directors of the Southern Connecticut chapter of AFSP, but could not make it to the event.
“I think that there is a stigma that our organization is trying to break so that it’s OK to talk about depression and mental health issues,” said Pelkey. “I think that depression and mental health should be treated just like any other disease because it is treatable and suicide is preventable.”
Carroll echoed these sentiments.
“I think it’s definitely important on this campus because it’s not something that’s talked about often, not only here, but everywhere,” she said. “So I think bringing awareness about the situation is important.”
“I am ecstatic for my friend Bailey Carroll who helped organize this event, as a freshman too, I’m very happy for her and so impressed,” said Matthew Lerebours ‘20, who volunteered at the walk. “She did a great job and everyone is very supportive of the message. They’re carrying signs and everyone is happy to be here.”