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First Out of the Darkness Campus Walk in Chautauqua County Goes Virtual

Submitted by gallagha on Wed, 04/22/2020 - 14:04

MAYVILLE, N.Y.: - The Out of the Darkness Campus Walks are the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's (AFSP) signature student event, designed to engage youth and young adults in the fight to prevent suicide. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Western NY Chapter has collaborated with several local organizations to plan a campus walk, which was originally planned to be held on a local college campus. The event was modified to a series of virtual events to protect participants during required social distancing. The goal of the collaboration is to provide a virtual Out of the Darkness Campus Walk and wellness events to all Chautauqua County college-aged youth and campus staff.

The event has expanded from a campus walk to a virtual walk on May 2, 2020.  In addition, there will be wellness experiences and other virtual events shared through the Facebook event page. Those interested are encouraged to search for Chautauqua County Virtual Out of the Darkness Campus Walk on Facebook to join.

Those who participate in the virtual walk and other Out of the Darkness Walks planned nationwide will join efforts with hundreds of thousands of people to raise awareness and funds that allow the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to invest in new research, create educational programs, advocate for public policy, and support survivors of suicide loss. For more information on the walk or how to register, please contact Missy Stolfi at mstolfi@afsp.org.

“Mental health is a growing concern and I am personally honored to have such great community collaborations in order to help meet the needs of our students,” said Kayla Crosby, Director of Campus Life, Jamestown Community College. “During this time, in particular, it is a true blessing to have resources available to share with students as we encourage their success in their courses and life in general.”

A unique training opportunity, Talk Saves Lives, an introduction to suicide prevention, is a community-based presentation that covers the research on suicide prevention and what people can do to protect others in their community. Participants in the virtual training will learn who is at risk and the warning signs of suicide, and how together as a community, we can help prevent it. These series of trainings are offered at no cost.

“SUNY Fredonia is highly committed to supporting student's mental health, especially during COVID-19,” said Tracy L. Stenger, Executive Director of Student Wellness and Support, The State University of New York at Fredonia.  “The Fredonia Counseling Center made the switch to tele-therapy in mid-March so they are actively serving our students still on campus and in their home communities. We are grateful for the connection with our community partners for the wellness programs and suicide prevention trainings they are offering our entire community. Over 20 of our students participated in the first virtual Talk Saves Lives program and with three more offerings this month, we are excited that many more will receive this important training.”

Other virtual events offered include activities good for the mind and body. Sheridan Smith of the Mental Health Association will lead Meditation Mondays, a 15-minute mediation session. Workout Wednesdays will be led by local fitness instructors including Nicole Hodges, a Yoga Instructor from the Lotus Healing Center in Jamestown and The Fitness Bunker in Lakewood, Kathy Forster from the SUNY Fredonia Aerobic Center and Director of Residence Life, Grace Breen from the SUNY Fredonia Aerobic Center, and Chaelyn Wielkie a Group Fitness Instructor. These local instructors will be providing workouts to get participants moving to keep their bodies and minds healthy.

In the two weeks leading up to the virtual walk, there will be wellness challenges featured on social media for participants to interact with for a chance to win prizes sponsored by the Community Alliance for Suicide Prevention and the AFSP, Western NY Chapter.

This collaboration includes The State University of New York at Fredonia, Jamestown Community College, the Mental Health Association in Chautauqua County (MHA), Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene and the Community Alliance for Suicide Prevention, and local fitness instructors.

“This team of collaborators understands this is a trying time for everyone in our community,” said Jeannie Galbraith, planning committee member.  “We want to come together to provide a hopeful resource for our young adults. It is important to look at the positives, support each other’s mental and physical wellbeing, and stay as connected possible. The hope with this event is that participants enjoy the process, feel connected, and gain a new life long self-care habits.”

For more information about the Community Alliance for Suicide Prevention, contact the Alliance Coordinator, Victoria Eckert at pattiv@co.chautauqua.ny.us or search for the Community Alliance for Suicide Prevention on Facebook.

The Chautauqua County Crisis Hotline, 1-800-724-0461, is available if you are experiencing a personal crisis or are in emotional distress.    

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