Wellness Center sponsors suicide prevention walk


The Susan E. Bauernfeind Student Recreation and Wellness Center will serve as the starting point for the suicide prevention walk. (Photo courtesy of scbarchitects.com)

MacKenzie Rogers, Staff Writer

With hopes to raise awareness of suicide, a life walk for suicide prevention is set for April 15.

A “Life Walk” is meant to represent continuing on with one’s life, regardless of what is coming or has happened, no matter how extreme.

Wellness Center employee and walk organizer Sean Slusher said suicide prevention is important to him.

“With the rise of teenage and college student suicide each year, I just want to make sure that the awareness is out there,” Slusher said. “It’s a personal thing for me, as I’ve got my own stuff that I struggle with every day. I don’t want to see anybody else have the same kind of emotions that I’ve got and have it lead to suicide.”

The idea for the suicide prevention walk has been in the making since October 2022.

“[A counselor] asked me if I did anything with the community regarding this particular issue, and I was like, ‘I don’t,’ and then I thought to myself, ‘maybe I should,’” Slusher said. “I want to bring as much awareness to the issue as needed, as it’s been an issue that’s been swept under the rug. Too many people have died because of [suicide], and they shouldn’t have.”

The prevention walk is sponsored by the Wellness Center. All donations raised are for the Department of Psychology and Check-A-Vet, an organization focused on preventing suicide for veterans through suicide awareness.

“This is the first time I’ve ever planned an event,” Slusher said. “I’ve never done anything like this before. This is a learning experience for me and for future events because I have other ideas for the future. I know I’m not going to be able to stop the issue from happening, but I want to let people know that there is help, even if you don’t have any kind of a safety net.”

The walk is estimated to be 1.67 miles, beginning at the Wellness Center and traveling along Chestnut Street and North 12th Street before returning back to the Wellness Center.

Slusher said the walk should take around 30 minutes.

“We’re going to walk down to North 12th Street,” Slusher said. “That’s the most important area that I’m worried about because that’s the busiest street. The whole town drives it. Everybody’s going to see what’s happening. I’m going to encourage signs too so that people in the cars can see what’s happening and know that they don’t have to give in to suicide.”

While signs are not being provided, Slusher encourages attendees to create their own and make them as colorful as possible but asks no sign to have vulgar language on them.

“I don’t want anything negative,” Slusher said. “That’s the last thing the walk needs. You know, this is already a dark subject in the first place. We don’t need to add anything else to it.”

Slusher shared he was interested in raising funds to put toward getting a television commercial ad that spreads suicide awareness. He hopes to have this ad run during every commercial break.

“I’m looking ahead to see if there’s any way that we can get suicide hotlines on television,” Slusher said. “Just a regular, maybe 15-second ad on every single commercial break. That way, you know, it’s seen by everybody because it affects everybody.”

The inspiration for the walk, Slusher says, comes from Live Aid, a benefit concert held in 1985 that helped raise awareness of the famine ravaging Ethiopia. The concert managed to raise $127 million.

“[Live Aid] was held by Bob Geldof,” Slusher said. “He is one of my biggest heroes in life. …I look at him and look at the organization now and was like, why can’t there be something like that for suicide victims and suicide?”

Anyone interested in attending the walk or donating can do so at suicidepreventionawareness.godaddysites.com.

If you are dealing with suicidal thoughts, call the 24-hour national crisis lifeline at 988 or text the crisis line at 741741.

You can also visit the Counseling Center, which has a counselor on call for crisis situations from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday during the academic year. All services are confidential and free.