Skidmore hosts Out of the Darkness walk
Despite a light rain, 165 Skidmore College and Saratoga Springs community members participated in the second annual Out of the Darkness Campus Walk for suicide prevention and awareness.
“Suicide is a difficult topic to talk about,” said Oleg Turayev, a co-organizer of the event on April 28 and a staff clinician at Skidmore’s Counseling Center. “What unites all of us is a common goal of saving lives. It’s moving forward to create a better future, and that’s really why we’re here.”
U.S. Rep. Paul D. Tonko (D-NY) spoke during the opening ceremony on Case Center Green and participated in the walk around campus.
“Some 47,000 people perished last year because of suicide. That’s 47,000 too many,” Tonko said.
“It’s great to march with you and to make certain that the public knows that we see mental illness as a fight worth championing and that we will prevent and wipe out those numbers that have impacted us,” Tonko said.
Several student groups participated. Skidmore’s Peer Health Educators and members of the volleyball and men’s ice hockey teams were among the top fund raisers. Overall, walkers raised more than $7,000 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, which sponsored the walk. Half the funds raised will go to organizations in the Saratoga Springs community. (Donations will be accepted until June 30, 2019.)
The walk was also a chance for a community to convene. The colors of beaded necklaces walkers wore marked someone’s connection to the broader community: red for the loss of a spouse or partner; white for the loss of a child; silver for a military loss; gold for the loss of a parent; green for a personal struggle; orange for the loss of sibling; purple for the loss of a relative or friend; teal for supporting someone who struggles.
Co-chair of the walk Julia Routbort, associate dean of student affairs for health and wellness at Skidmore and a licensed clinical psychologist, said: “The Out of the Dark Campus Walk is a way for us to collectively fight stigma, to let people who might be struggling know that they are not alone and to find ways to support each other. To me, nothing is more important.”