By: Jessica Ricks, Staff Writer
At an Out of the Darkness Walk Saturday morning, Towson community members banded together to foster awareness of depression and suicide in partnership with the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention (AFSP). While organizers aimed to raise $3,000 for the cause, the group raised over $7,000.
“Depression is definitely one of our top concerns,” Counseling Center psychologist Leigh Ann Carter said. “That’s why we like having walks. These events make it visible and make people aware of the available resources.”
Members of Towson University and the surrounding area met on the lawn outside of the Towsontown garage to register and show their support by wearing an assortment of colored necklaces representing the loss of loved ones to suicide, experience with suicide and depression or general support for those in that situation.
The health and counseling centers partnered with AFSP to bring the event back to Towson after a several year hiatus. AFSP holds walks for suicide prevention at various campuses including Johns Hopkins, the University of Maryland and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
“One thing that really struck me was seeing how many are affected,” Counseling Center psychologist Lauren Drinkwater said. “So many people were wearing beads to show their loss, recognize struggles and understand their impact.”
Carter addressed the crowd and several students shared their stories, personal and secondhand. Following the speeches, the crowd set out on the walk around the entirety of Towson’s campus.
“I feel like everyone suffers from depression in some way at some point,” senior nursing major Maggie Kemper said.
Her friend Nick Thieme was one of the many people at the walk who struggle with depression in their daily lives.
“I have bipolar II, it’s more depressive than manic,” Thieme said. “It’s different every day depending on how I’m cycling. It makes it harder to do things you like, and it makes hard things harder.”
Jenifer Arthur, a junior psychology major, was volunteering at the event as a Healthy Minds Peer Educator. She said she’s had to talk many of her friends out of suicide and emphasized the importance of self-care on the part of someone in that situation.
“It’s very emotionally draining,” she said. “It’s good to help someone, but self-care on your part is important too.”