Hold On, You Matter: A Suicide Prevention Walk
Posted on November 16, 2018 by Caitlin O’Brien ’19, a Delaware Valley University counseling psychology major.
“Take your hand, put it on your heart. That’s where the life is. That is a life that only you have.” –Nicholas Emeigh, National Alliance On Mental Illness (NAMI)
On Saturday, Nov. 3, a group from Delaware Valley University joined many in the Bucks County community to come together for an important cause: to raise awareness of and reduce the stigma towards mental illness. Children, teenagers and adults alike filled the common area of Bucks County Community College's Upper Bucks Campus in Perkasie. Beads of different colors were given for runners to wear, representing friends and family members who had died by suicide or were suicide survivors. Representatives of organizations that help individuals with mental health issues were also present, including the Penn Foundation, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Bucks County Department of Mental Health and Developmental Programs.
DelVal’s Psychology Club was there as well and helped to promote the event ahead of time.
“We were eager to get students from DelVal more involved with the community,” said Psychology Club President Shane Wittkop '20.
So far the club has raised over $300 to help the Bucks County Suicide Prevention Task Force.
There were many speakers who presented before the start of the walk. U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick told the crowd, “You are here serving a cause bigger than yourself.”
Two other speakers, Nicholas and Amanda, shared their personal stories with suicide, the importance of kindness, and how they’ve overcome their struggles. Before the talk, they were smiling and talking with members of the community. Once they started to tell their stories, it was clear that they were holding back tears. There was barely a dry eye in the audience.
When the speakers concluded, the walk began. Chalk was passed around to write down the names of those who lost their lives along the path. Some groups held hands as they walked. Some threw their arms over each other’s shoulders. Many were telling stories, catching up with friends, and meeting new people. It was such a compassionate and welcoming event to be a part of.
With mental health becoming a prominent subject in today’s world, it is important to continue the conversation and bring awareness towards a subject that is affecting millions every day. When I talk to fellow students on campus I hear about their personal struggles regarding mental health. We are entering a difficult transition, trying to figure out who we are, what we want to do with our futures, and how we are going to manage all of our work. With many dealing with such diagnoses as anxiety and depression, we do not need the added stress of a negative stigma towards getting help. College students are just one of many demographics that are dealing with mental health concerns. Maintaining a discussion on mental health can bring symptoms of mental illness to the forefront, help reduce the negative stigma, and help many to get the help they need to get better.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please call the Suicide Prevention Hotline, 1.800.273.8255.
About the Author
Caitlin O’Brien ’19 is a Delaware Valley University counseling psychology major and English minor. She is a current member of the co-ed fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega. She is also a writing tutor at the University's Writing Center.