Active Minds promotes awarness for suicide prevention by walking

Allison Mueller

Jessica Bendzick/ Winonan

According to the American Foundation for suicide prevention website, about 1,100 college die each year by suicide.

Winona State University’s Active Minds club is striving to put an end to that statistic.

Beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 5, the club will be hosting an “Out of the Darkness” walk at Lake Lodge to raise suicide awareness. Proceeds raised at the walk will go to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

“Out of the Darkness” community walks are the foundation’s signature fundraiser. Hundreds of walks take place annually in various cities across the nation.

Each fall, families, friends and colleagues gather to walk to prevent suicide, raise awareness and end the stigma surrounding suicide, depression and other mental disorders.

Following the suicide of her older brother, Allsion Malmon, a University of Pennsylvania student, founded Active Minds in 2001. Active Minds is a national, non-profit, student organization striving to raise awareness of mental health issues and to reduce discrimination associated with mental illness.

Winona State student Claire Stephans founded Winona State’s own Active Minds club last year and hosted Winona’s first “Out of the Darkness” walk.

Active Minds public relations officer Grace Pesch was part of the original group when the club was founded.

“Suicide is a topic that people don’t ever really talk about. It is such a sensitive subject, but something that can be prevented,” Pesch said.

Pesch also stressed their three main focuses as a club: awareness, education and prevention.

Active Minds vice president Kayla Johnson, who joined the club shortly after its establishment, reemphasized the importance of awareness.

“Our main goal is to spread awareness for suicide prevention so that people educate themselves or can be educated by us in order to prevent suicide,” Johnson said.

She said last year the club focused on educating themselves and their members.

Each meeting involves future planning, but they remain laid-back as well.

“Last week, we made stress balls,” Johnson said.

Free registration can be done through the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website and participants can join a team or start one of their own.