WLU takes part in “Out of Darkness” suicide awareness walk

Left to right: Caitlyn Hufford, Jess Horn and Michaela Bias.

The “Out of the Darkness” suicide awareness walk will take place on Wednesday, April 6, from 4-7 p.m. Groups like the Kappa Phi sorority, the campus ministries and others around the campus community will be participating in the suicide awareness walk.

Caitlyn Hufford, Kappa Phi president, said, “The walk has been something that Kappa Phi has done off and on for years. This year, specifically, we have a lot of girls with a strong passion to raise awareness. Coming to the event, students can help raise awareness and gain knowledge about the on campus and off campus community.” Hufford encourages students to participate in the walk because many social work agencies, campus clubs and counseling services will be present. “Campus Ministry is also hosting lunch at noon on the day of the event like they do every Wednesday. Come out and get some free goodies and spend time with friends,” said Hufford.

The act of exercising and moving your body can help depression. According to Talking Circles, “While more than 550,000 people run in marathons each year, you don’t have to run that far to receive the positive benefits of this form of exercise.” Other exercises that can help relieve an individual’s depression includes yoga, hiking, weight lifting, swimming and dancing.

Lisa Witzberger, director of counseling services, said, “Exercise sustained over time promotes nerve cells in the brain to grow and make new connections. The improvement in brain function makes you feel better. People who are depressed tend to have a smaller region in the brain that regulates mood. Exercise supports nerve cell growth and improves nerve cell connections, which helps relieve depression.”

Suicide awareness walks can be found at other universities and cities around the country. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, “These events (suicide awareness walks) give people the courage to open up about their own connections to the cause and a platform to create a culture that’s smarter about mental health. Friends, family members, neighbors and coworkers walk side-by-side, supporting each other and in memory of those we’ve lost.”

If you are struggling with depression or another concern, you can schedule a free counseling session with Witzberger through WINS. Witzberger’s office is located in the College Union second floor, room S14. Witzberger will help with issues such as academic concerns, alcohol abuse, anxiety, depression, drug abuse, eating disorders, grieving, homesickness, identity issues, relationship issues, self-injurious behavior, sexual/physical assault, sleep difficulty, stress or suicidal thoughts. There are other resources on West Liberty’s website to help students interested in receiving counseling. WLU provides hotlines and websites for various issues such as stress management, sleep, suicide prevention, eating disorders, substance abuse, sexual abuse and domestic violence.