Walk aims to increase suicide awareness

Oswego State will hold its first "Out of the Darkness" suicide prevention walk on Oct. 2, starting at 11 a.m.

Over 100 people are currently participating in this walk and, together, have already raised over $5,000, which will be donated to suicide research and to the distribution of information to high schools about depression.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), suicide takes a life every 16 minutes in the United States, which is over 33,000 lives each year. According to suicide.org, there are approximately one million suicide attempts each year. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in college students and, on average, a young person between the ages of 15 and 24 dies by suicide every two hours.

Jessica Leigh Ryan, volunteer coordinator and a third-year graduate student in counseling and psychological services, said that those who choose suicide typically feel hopelessly alone and misunderstood and many people refuse to talk about the subject of suicide entirely. The "Out of the Darkness" walk strives to break the silence and to fight the stigmas, giving people a different perspective on suicide and enabling them to open up about it.

"The more we talk about suicide, the less likely it will be that someone will take their life," Ryan said, "This has been proven by research."

"Out of the Darkness" suicide prevention walks benefit the AFSP, helping them to raise money toward research and education programs to prevent suicide. These walks occur throughout the country, raising awareness in communities about depression and suicide, advocating for mental health issues and assisting survivors of suicide loss. The event includes both Oswego State faculty and students.

"Every role in the committee is essential to the success of this event," Ryan said. "We have all been working diligently since mid-August."

The Lifestyles Center contributed, donating supplies and services to the "Out of the Darkness" walk.

"This walk is about bringing people together so that families and individuals know that they are not alone," Ryan said. "And that there are others that have felt the pain of losing someone to suicide completion."

Registration will begin at nine a.m. For more information, email the walk organizer Jamie Leszczynski, at

jamieleszczynksi@yahoo.com.