The Arkansas Mental Health Counselors Association (ArMHCA) UCA student chapter helped raise more than $15,000 dollars at a fundraiser for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) on April 12 at Arkansas Tech University.
The Out of Darkness Campus Walk fundraiser is one of many events that help promote mental health education and reduce mental illness.
Graduate student and Chapter fundraising chair Ethan Williams said the original goal was to raise $5,000 for the event and he was excited once he heard how much the group raised.
“It was amazing,” he said. “We knew going into the walk, we raised nearly double the amount we had originally intended.”
Williams said the money raised would go toward AFSP research, education and survivor programs for those who have attempted suicide.
This is not the only way to donate money to the cause. People can donate directly through the AFSP website and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website has several ways people can donate.
Because the organization started last semester, this was the first time it participated in the event.
More than 500 people were in attendance for the walk and represented schools such as UCA and University of Arkansas Community College — Morrilton.
A couple people facing suicide impact talked before the walk.
Williams said the stories they told were hard to hear, but can make an impact on lives.
“Hearing those stories can be difficult to hear, but it really brings a reality to the problem,” he said.
According to the AFSP website, a person dies by suicide every 13.7 minutes in the U.S. and will claim more than 38,000 lives each year as a result.
The website also states suicide is the second leading cause of death for college students and is a nationwide problem that affects many Americans.
UCA Counseling Center Director Susan Sobel said participating in the walk will help reduce the number of suicides and that there are more options for people who are contemplating suicide.
“Hopefully, it will raise awareness in a positive way that it doesn’t have to be a solution to a problem,” she said.
The UCA chapter will attend the ArMHCA state conference in Little Rock on Thursday, April 17, and Friday, April 18, where they will work booths, present research and supervise.
As of April 14, this is the only event the organization participates in, but Williams said it hopes to grow and become more involved in other events as the organization grows.
Individualds interested in donating to the cause can visit afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfm and select “Out of Darkness Campus Walks.” Then select “donate,” enter “ArMHCA” for the team and donate under UCA student chapter president Katelyn Bates’ name.
For further information, one can go to www.afsp.org.