On November 3rd, 25 students, staff, and friends of University of the West participated in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention* (AFSP) donor drive and “Out of the Darkness” Walk. Team UWest_U-Matter raised and donated $838 to help with research, education, and services for those affected by suicide. Among the many AFSP initiatives and programs, the National Suicide Hotline (1-800-273-TALK) that runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is promoted and utilized by the UWest Wellness Center.
Every 12 minutes in the United States and every 40 seconds across the world, a person dies by suicide (AFSP 2018). Suicide is often said to be a permanent solution to a temporary problem although many, if not most, people who die by suicide have suffered many years of mental illness that had not been successfully treated. People with mental illness are 25 times more likely to die by suicide than those without mental illness (most notably, depression, and bipolar disorder).
UWest’s Care Manager April Afoa is affiliated with a non-profit agency helping families grieve the loss of a loved one who became an organ or tissue donor to save or enhance the lives of others.** Seven parents whose loved ones died by suicide asked to have signs with their sons’ names and pictures made for the walk in honor of their lives, memories, and spirits. April and Team UWest U-Matter carried these signs during the walk. Two of these parents also walked with us. All the family members were incredibly moved and grateful to the university for taking their sons along on the walk.
Thank you to all who contributed to or participated in this meaningful event, with special appreciation for event coordinators Care Manager April Afoa and Resident Advisor Wendy Pino and Student Life Director Eddie Escalante, as well as for administrative and financial support. Additionally, gratitude is extended to Venerable Han Hoang of the Department of Buddhist Chaplaincy for creating a video capturing this meaningful day of service.
*American Foundation for Suicide Prevention > https://afsp.org
**Donate Life – consider being an organ or tissue donor when your life ends. If you have a pink dot on your driver’s license, then you have already made the decision to be a donor. For more information > https://donatelifecalifornia.org