Walk raises money, awareness for suicide prevention
May 1, 2015
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Students and faculty walked for suicide prevention at the Newark campus on April 15 in honor of those suffering from and loved ones lost to mental illness.
STEP Up Ohlone organized the fifth annual Out of the Darkness Walk in an effort to raise awareness and prevent suicide. Students, staff and faculty wore colored beads signifying their support and walked three laps around the Newark campus.
The walk is one of the many steps Ohlone is taking to help reduce the stigma attached to mental illness. This stigma hinders the ability for people to heal, said Kevin Franklin of the Ohlone Student Veterans Club.
“People are afraid to get the help they need,” he said.
Registration was held at 11 a.m. and the walk began at noon. Participants could donate to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and so far the event has raised $1,771 out of the $3,000 goal. To donate, go to http://stepupohlone.org.
Ohlone College began the Out of the Darkness walk after a former campus safety officer, Stewart Dawson, killed himself in 2010. Dawson’s mother, Cathy, and sister, Christiana, have been present at the walk every year.
“The walk in itself – it’s difficult and yet at the same time it gives us a lot of hope,” Cathy Dawson said.
STEP Up Ohlone is the college’s campaign to promote student mental health, prevent suicide, and reduce stigma and discrimination about mental illness.
“The sorrow is mixed with joy that you see in things like this – the walk and the promise of a better tomorrow,” Cathy Dawson said.
Aldriene Ladlad of the Associated Students of Ohlone College said he has family members who have attempted suicide, and he hopes the event is an eye-opener.
“I love Ohlone College,” Ladlad said. “The college has always been family-oriented.”