As a part of Suicide Prevention Month, the South Bend community is passionate to show support through the Out of the Darkness walking event taking place this Saturday.
The Out of the Darkness walk is a national initiative put out by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The foundation hosts these walks across the country and this year, St. Joseph County is hosting one of these walks in Howard Park.
Director of the office for student involvement and advocacy Liz Baumann discussed the importance of this walk and why it can connect well with students from the tri-campus community.
“Mental health is something that's important for all of us and especially important for college students. There are numerous statistics out there on how prevalent suicidal ideation is for college students... being able to expand our suicide prevention efforts and education and advocacy is something I'm very passionate about and excited to be doing with this walk,” Baumann said.
Through promoting this walk, Baumann said she wishes to continue advocacy for mental health awareness within South Bend with help from the tri-campus community.
“From here I hope this event is kind of a jumping-off point for us with expanding our programming for mental health and suicide prevention. I think this walk is an awesome effort and I'm really excited about it, but I don't want it to end here,” Baumann said.
Through normalizing mental health struggles, it can become difficult to identify when to reach out for help. There’s a blurred line between what is categorized as a normal obstacle and what is categorized as a tell-tale sign that something is wrong.
Baumann discussed this idea further, saying she believes it is something to be recognized and to be more of a priority in our day-to-day lives.
“In normalizing mental health, I also want to help others see the importance of reaching out for help and that although a lot of experiences are normal, it's normal to feel homesick. It's normal to be stressed about academics. It's also not necessarily normal to be having suicidal thoughts,” she said. “And so, helping people recognize the signs in themselves and each other and therefore helping each other and themselves get help is really, really important. “
Self-care is incredibly important for students to partake in but as well as being honest with yourself as to what works best for you in times of destressing.
Baumann discussed further this concept of how not everyone can find relaxation through “traditional methods” such as bubble baths and exercising but rather through their own personal self-care journey.
“Making sure that you’re honest with yourself about what self-care looks like for you, and making a commitment to carve out time for that, I think is really important, especially with college students,” she said.
Registration for the event takes place at 9 a.m. and at 10 a.m., then the walk will proceed until 1 p.m.
Saint Mary’s students can access transportation from the student center at 9:30 a.m.
Editor’s note: For mental health and wellness resources, view The Observer's Editorial of numbers to knowhere.