Suicide is a major public health problem and a leading cause of death in New Hampshire and across the nation. On Sunday, April 3, Plymouth State University and the wider community joined together in an “Out of the Darkness” benefit event on campus in support of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) New Hampshire Chapter.
Out of the Darkness events take place nationwide to raise awareness and much-needed funds for those affected by suicide, strongly sending the message that suicide is preventable and that no one is alone.
PSU’s event was spearheaded by the University’s Kappa Delta Phi National Affiliated Sorority and supported by the Student Government Association and the Office of Student Life. More than 800 people gathered on the University’s Alumni Lawn and were joined by off-campus donors in raising more than $8,500 to date in support of teams of 5K walkers and runners, and through raffles and cash donations.
The overall event goal is $10,000, and funds will be used to support Granite Staters by raising awareness and providing educational support. Donations can be made at https://supporting.afsp.org/event/8661.
Kasey Arnold ’23 and Corinne Cloutier ’24 serve as Kappa Delta Phi’s philanthropy co-chairs. The two built upon the work of alumna sister Kayla Bowen ’21, whose 2020 planning for a suicide prevention fundraiser had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 shutdown.
“Today we got to see our dream come to life as we walked together, showed up for one another and leaned on each other,” said Cloutier. “I will always look at Plymouth State University differently due to the passion we saw today. I know this community can work together and care for one another in a way that can cultivate a culture of compassion, as we saw today.”
“We all came together today to bring mental health Out of the Darkness,” added Arnold. “We brought something that is rarely talked about, into the light. The money we have raised will be used to save lives. It will fund awareness and research, and it will provide mental health services to those who may not be able to access them.”
Speakers included Vice President for Communications, Enrollment & Student Life Marlin Collingwood, who shared his experience with suicide. He encouraged all who might be contemplating suicide, and those with friends or family members in crisis, to continue just “one more day,” having faith that through support, love, and understanding there will be better days ahead.
Dr. Rob Orf, director of the PSU Counselor Center, discussed community mental health resources, and Kim Wade, a volunteer and trained facilitator, discussed the work of the AFSP. Shannon Desilets of the Choose Love Movement shared information about her organization’s programs and resources, and the event featured family friendly activities, food, face painting, and entertainment by Plymouth musicians “Blokhead.”