ORONO, Maine — Suicide is the second leading cause of death in Maine for people ages 15 to 24. It is estimated that one person attempts suicide every minute. As part of its ongoing effort to raise awareness of this issue, the University of Maine Counseling Center will host an Out of the Darkness suicide prevention walk at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 29.
Walkers will shed light on an important, but sometimes taboo topic and they will raise funds for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, which funds research and education about suicide prevention, and offers resources for those who have lost a loved one to suicide.
“Suicide is a public health issue that does not discriminate by age, gender, ethnicity, or socio- economic status, and it takes an enormous toll on family, friends, co-workers and the entire community,” explained Kelly Shaw, Touchstone coordinator at the UMaine Counseling Center. “Often there is a lot of shame and stigma around this topic, so this is an important part of our effort to make sure people know how they can help their loved ones or help themselves.”
The foundation also provides an anonymous web-based stress and depression screening that is available to UMaine students. Once they take the screening, students can dialogue with a counselor. “For people who might be nervous about coming to the Counseling Center, this helps remove a barrier. It’s another way for students to access us if they are struggling,” said Shaw.
Anyone who would like to participate in the walk may form a team or register individually by visiting outofthedarkness.org, and clicking on Find an Event Near You to join the Orono walk. Donations to the walk also may be made at that page.
Or, participants may register at 1 p.m. the day of the walk on the mall in front of Fogler Library. There will be a brief ceremony honoring the memories of those who have been lost to suicide and honoring the strength and resilience of those who mourn loved ones who died by suicide. The walk will proceed south along College Avenue and through downtown Orono before returning to campus by Rangeley Road.