UMaine suicide walk raises awareness

Posted Sept. 26, 2010, at 10:37 p.m.

ORONO, Maine — Nate Chamberlain, a defenseman for the Husson University lacrosse team, never knew that his teammate was struggling with depression until it was too late.

He and others on the Eagles team banded together to raise awareness about depression and suicide in Sunday’s Out of the Darkness Community Walk at the University of Maine.

“We got the whole team” to participate, he said. “We lost a teammate last year.”

Each player wore a sticker that said they walked in honor of Kyle Dwyer, who was a junior when he took his life.

“It was pretty rough” when he died, Chamberlain said.

Dwyer’s teammates decided to participate in the Out of the Darkness Walk and raised more than $350 to support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

The funds will help the UMaine Counseling Center offer programs designed to raise awareness of issues related to suicide and depression, said Bethany Asquith, coordinator for the center’s Touch Stone program, a suicide prevention program.

“Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Maine adolescents, those age 15-24,” she said.

Nationally, someone dies due to suicide every 16 minutes, Asquith said, adding a goal of the program and the walk is to educate people about what to look for.

“We’re trying to empower [friends and family] to know what the signs are,” she said.

More than 160 people preregistered for the 5K walk, which made its way from Fogler Library into downtown Orono and back to campus. The number of participants has doubled compared with last year, which was the first time the walk was held at UMaine.

“We want the entire community to see there is a big group of people who support suicide prevention,” said Asquith, adding the goal to raise $10,000 was exceeded by more than $1,500.

Many of the participants wore colored beads that symbolized that they struggle themselves or have lost friends or family to suicide.

While there is no way to fill the hole created by Dwyer’s death, helping to raise awareness is helping his teammates heal, said Ryan Lapham, a Husson senior and offensive player.

“We’re … here to support a teammate,” he said.

Chamberlain added, “We really came together. We felt it was necessary to continue to remember him.”

Even players who didn’t know Dwyer participated, he said.

“It means a lot to us guys who did know him that they’re here,” Chamberlain said.

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