Mental health continues to be a growing topic as the United States enters the eighteenth month of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to data provided at the Sedgwick County Commissioners meeting Wednesday, deaths by suicide in 2020 were an all time high. 105 people died by suicide with 90% of deaths being men.
Wichita State Counseling and Prevention services continues their mission to bring awareness to this topic by hosting the annual suicide prevention walk/run on Saturday.
Associate Clinical Director Christopher Leonard said that he is proud of the event’s mission and hopes that it will continue to advocate for harder conversations.
“Know that there’s help out there, there’s hope, there’s a way, there’s people out there who can be a support and be an advocate for you,” Leonard said. “There are ways that we as community members can support each other and reach out.”
The walk is also in partnership with StopSuicideICT, who has focused on promoting the event further than just the Wichita State community.
“StopSuicideICT is really getting the community outreach and really saturating social media and the television, and just advertising and getting out there to really know that this event’s here and there are people who want to support each other and raise awareness,” Leonard said.
“I’m really proud that all the resources will be coming back into Sedgwick County and really supporting all of Wichita State and the central Wichita community.”
SGA Director of Health and Wellness David Liu has been focusing on the event’s student outreach. He said that one run can go a long way in the fight for suicide prevention.
“It really goes back to the suspenders 4 hope campaign,” Liu said. “One run is not going to fix everything, but what it is trying to do it’s trying to bring awareness to what suspenders 4 hope is doing.”
Campus groups have also been getting involved in fundraising for the cause. Vice President of Student Affairs Teri Hall is offering to provide free lunch for the group that raises the most money.
“It’s trying to bring groups together for a single purpose,” Liu said.
Liu said that considering how many people need mental health resources, the utilization of on-campus resources is significantly low.
“At the end of the day, campus does have your back,” Liu said. “The utilization of CAPS [is low], by having an on campus [events] it may encourage students to engage in more conversation.”
Leonard said he tries to wear his CAPS suspenders shirt at every running even he does to promote being a suicide preventation advocate.
“This is just an opportunity to be present with other,” Leonard said. “A lot of people have been touched by suicide in one way or another, and this is just an opportunity for people to get together and know that they’re not alone.”
Check-in for the walk/run begins 8 a.m. at the Rhatigan Student Center. Participants can either register for the 5k run or a one mile walk.