The Walk for a Cause Suicide Prevention event on Oct. 23 was hosted at Pierce College Puyallup. More than 30 students attended.
The goal was to spread the word about suicide.
Wellness and Outdoor Coordinator Cassandra Divis planned the event. Last year, the previous Office of Student Life coordinator had the idea of having a suicide awareness event. Divis liked the idea and developed it.
“(The previous OSL coordinator) had the idea of having a walk for suicide, but I planned the rest of it, like who was speaking and what we were going to do,” Divis said.
The first part of the event was a PowerPoint Presentation in the multi-purpose room in the College Center by counselor Elizabeth Scott.
Scott addressed suicide statistics, risk factors and warning signs, which, as Scott explained, includes substance abuse, feeling trapped, depressed, hopeless, anger and withdrawal from friends and family.
“I thought that it would be good to have the student counselor because students would recognize her and feel one-on-one with her and know that she can help you if you need help or if your friend needs help,” Divis said.
Scott also provided resources for students to contact if they need help. Some of these included the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, the Pierce County Crisis Line, Teenline and Scott herself along with Pierce College Faculty Counselor Deborah Bransford at Pierce College Fort Steilacoom campus.
“It’s preventable,” Scott said. “That was my main focus, that this is serious, and it’s preventable and anyone can do something.”
After the 30-minute presentation, members of the OSL invited the students to join the suicide walk around the campus to spread the word. Before the walk started, OSL leaders handed out star-shaped balloons for individuals to hold for those who were going to walk in the effort of creating attention. The balloons were purple and blue to match the suicide awareness ribbon.
“Balloons are fun anyway, and I just feel like this is kind of a topic is kind of solemn, so I think it’s good to have some little fun thing in it to bring smiles on peoples faces,” Divis said. “I thought it was a really good idea just to incorporate that and have people notice what we were doing.”
Divis, Interacting and Gaming coordinator Jacey Ortega and OSL Coordinator Sonja Morgan led the walk holding a banner purple banner created by OSL members.
The walk began in the dining commons, then went down the hallway and through the doors to the Arts and Allied Health building.
Students sitting and roaming the halls looked to see the display of walkers and balloons in the air. People in the area were invited to join in the walk, too.
“I noticed that people, even if they didn’t join, would still smile and be happy about what we were doing,” Divis said.
After walking through the AAH, the group continued to the Library Science Center building, after to the Gaspard Administration building and eventually back to the CTR. The walk lasted about 10 minutes.
“It was kind of fun knowing that we were spreading the word I guess, making people more aware, because we went to all the buildings,” student and participant Travis Hedesa said.
Once returning to the College Center, purple and white rubber bracelets with the words “hope” and “strength” were handed out.
Food and refreshments were provided to students who participated and this was the last portion of the Walk for a Cause. Students had the opportunity to relax or talk to Scott if they had questions on this topic.
Students who attended also had the opportunity to receive extra credit if they were in various psychology class as well as one sociology classes. This was also Divis’s idea, who contacted all the psychology professors.
“I thought it went well with the subject and asked them to tell their students about it,” Divis said. “I was excited when the professors told me they’d make it extra credit for their students.”
The event had a positive response, and OSL and other student voices hope to see this event happen again.
“I thought it was very informative and it covered all of the bases as far as how to identify a person who’s ill and how to help them,” Hedesa said, “and I think that’s really important cause I think after learning what I have learned here today, I think there’s a couple of people I know personally that may be somebody to watch out for.”
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