TORCH PHOTO/AMANDA NEGRETTI
Hundreds of students lined up to walk and donate at the third annual Suicide Prevention Walk, held by the St. John’s Center for Counseling and Consultation.
The walk, a part of the University’s SJUOK? Campaign, consisted of informational stations with different fruits that students could take to put in their water bottle, which they received at the start of the walk on the Great Lawn. Dr. Luis Manzo, who organized the event as executive director of Student Wellness, says that the most important part of the event was to “get rid of the stigma associated with mental health concerns.”
There was a station for recognizing signs and symptoms, information on how to help a friend, “self-care” activities, what students can do when someone is in immediate distress and an overview on resources. There were a total of 41 student volunteers at the event who gave out the information and fruit. “We train them on the information but we train them to say it in their own way, so it’s students talking to students,” Manzo said.
The Counseling Center mostly reached out to students through email and MySJU, and according to Assistant Director of Outreach Services Dr. Schekeva Hall, over 60 students expressed interest.
Some students are in a situation where “they come to us and they’re in dire need,” Hall said. Hall wants students to get to the center before that happens, and that’s what the walk helps with. There’s also a table to donate to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, with a suggested donation of $1.
Freshman Jake LaChapelle saw the sign up to walk on MySJU but decided to volunteer instead. “College can be a stressful time in someone’s life,” he said. “Any time you can do something like that it’s really cool and I think people should be involved.”
LaChapelle helped give out surveys to see how students responded to all of the information, and lots of gifts as well. Students left with bags full of keychains, information cards, posters, buttons and their water bottle with the national suicide prevention hotline printed on it.
Freshman Cheyenne Antoine said she left with some really helpful tips. “It kind of made me sad, thinking about all the people that took their lives when there were options to get out,” she said. She added that even if it gets annoying, she’s always going to talk to her friends to make sure they are alright.
For help students are advised to call the Center for Counseling and Consultation in Marillac Hall 130 at 718-990-6384, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or SJU Public Safety at 718-990-5252.