Tomorrow, on the University of Washington campus, students have organized the Out Of The Darkness Walk, to bring awareness to suicide and raise money for the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. The problem is, not many people have signed up.
“Suicide is the second leading cause of death for college students,” says UW student Alysha Greig. “Depression itself is really high. Forty percent of people between the ages of 18 and 25 will experience depression at some point. So we just think the numbers for this walk should be a lot higher given the statistics are so high.”
Alysha thinks it’s incredibly important for students to talk about depression and suicide.
“I experienced a really severe several months of depression my sophomore year at the UW. I was living by myself, I was uncomfortable with how gigantic the campus is at UW and just felt isolated from my teachers and my peers. As you become more depressed, you tend to just isolate even more people that you’re close to.”
I asked Alysha if she had ever contemplated suicide.
“Yeah, I did. I had suicidal thoughts,” Alysha started to cry, “What made it so hard for me was that I felt so alone. This event is important because people need to know they’re not alone. That there’s other people who have had those experiences.”
Alysha says she had a reputation as a smart, together person so she was embarrassed to tell anyone about how she felt.
“A girl from the Greek community at UW was taken by suicide. That eventually is what kind of scared me and eventually I went to go seek help. Which is unfortunate that it took that event for me to do that. I wish that more people would just come out and talk about it.”
Through planning this walk, Alysha met Julie Borges.
“I am a suicide survivor, meaning I’ve lost a loved one to suicide,” Julie started to cry.
One of Julie’s best friends committed suicide two years ago, just three weeks before their high school graduation. She says some people get really uncomfortable when she talks about it.
“I think there’s a tendency with mental illness just to say, ‘Get over it. You have willpower, why don’t you just get over this thing that’s going on in your mind. It’s in your head.’ That just is not showing understanding for these people that are struggling with this,” Julie says.
“People just don’t understand it,” Alysha adds. “Sometimes I hear people say the word ‘selfish’ and ‘weak’ when they talk about people who have committed suicide or people who are going through serious depression. I think those kinds of words can really harm what we’re trying to do.”
The women know it’s not a fun topic, but they think the walk can help students who think they’re all alone.
“I guess the hope for me is that people coming to this walk will be inspired by the people they meet, the stories they hear and the speeches and such. Just feel more comfortable going out in the world and talking with, even just, their friends more about these topics.”
For more information on tomorrow’s Out Of the Darkness walk, click here. It starts at 9 a.m. on the UW campus, and they are also accepting donations for those who can’t attend.