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Students walk for hope

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Students, faculty and San Martians walking a mile in solidarity at The Walk Towards Hope suicide prevention and awareness walk on March 31.
Students, faculty and San Martians walking a mile in solidarity at The Walk Towards Hope suicide prevention and awareness walk on March 31.

Photo by Arielle Raveney | Lifestyle Reporter

Suicide is an issue that every college campus struggles with, but the Counseling Center wants Bobcats to know there is always hope.

On March 31 the Counseling Center hosted A Walk Towards Hope at the Student Recreation Center. The walk was to help suicide prevention and raise awareness.

Hannah Collins, Student Affairs of Higher Education master, headed the planning team for this event. Collins and the Counseling Center were inspired to educate the public after the suicide of student Travis Green in 2016.

“The public suicide on campus was not the only one within the month,” Collins said. “We felt that it was necessary to bring awareness to this issue and teach prevention tools so that people are more comfortable with having a conversation about suicide.”

Collins said the saying, “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes”, was the reason behind holding a walk of remembrance at the event.

“It’s important to have solidarity on this topic,” Collins said. “Having everybody go through the walk together was important to honoring those who have passed and those who have survived suicide attempts.”

Shannon Sionna, Texas State alumnae, performed two songs in remembrance of her friend Travis Green. Sionna sang an original song “You Don’t Have to Cry”, a song which Green sang the original back up vocals when they recorded it in the studio. Sionna said her second song, “Take Me to the King”, which she said was a favorite of Green’s. She instructed the audience to close their eyes and feel the song as she sang it.

“Every time I listen or sing to that song I feel him so close to me,” Sionna said. “I wanted everyone to take a minute to feel that they weren’t alone in that moment. The spirits are still here. They may just visit, but they are still around.”

Sionna said suicide and mental health awareness is important because it is something that is not taken very seriously for college students. The stereotype of students is that they are supposed to be stressed with school, but Sionna said it should not be that way. She said she wants students should know they have a support system available and suicide is not the answer.

“If Travis was here I would tell him that we could figure something out,” Sionna said. “I want people to know that you can always figure something out, you don’t have to leave in order for it to get fixed.”

For Sionna, hope is a reminder to not give up.

“It’s hard, everyone has positive days and negative days,” Sionna said. “On those negative days when you feel like things just won’t get better, hope is the force that pushes you out of that gray space. It’s that transition tool from positive to negative.”

Kim Litwinowich, staff psychologist and Counseling Center event coordinator, said there are many resources for suicide prevention in San Marcos. These resources include the Counseling Center, National Alliance on Mental Illness and crisis line at 1-800-273-8255 that can also be reached through text.

“Resources go beyond the Counseling Center,” Litwinowich said. “Resources are people in your life that you feel safe with.”

Litwinowich said the lack of awareness around suicide was saddening. She said one of the other inspirations for the walk was to bring awareness to the issue of young adult suicide because the more people know, the easier they can help.

About 4,000 people aged 15-24 die by suicide each year. It is the second-leading cause of death amongst 20-24-year-olds.

Due to these facts, Collins said one of the main goals of the event was to get the conversation around suicide started.

“Our at-risk training program is one that we offer online on the Counseling Center website,” Collins said. “It’s free and teaches students, faculty or staff how to address someone if they are in crisis and how to have that conversation with someone that is having suicidal thoughts.”

To Collins, hope is a reason to continue living life. In times that hope seems gone, Bobcats are encouraged to reach out and speak up to the resources they have around them.

For more information about the Counseling Center’s resources on suicide prevention and awareness, visit their website here.

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