Out & About: Dartmouth to hold first suicide awareness walk since COVID-19 pandemic disruption

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 4/29/2023 8:55:53 PM
Modified: 4/29/2023 8:55:26 PM

HANOVER — The last time Dartmouth College hosted a suicide prevention walk was before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Its return next Sunday is notable in more ways than one: The Upper Valley — including Dartmouth students and community members unaffiliated with the college — have been through a lot. During the pandemic, some existing mental health struggles worsened and new ones manifested. Resources — already scarce — became more challenging to find. People could not gather to heal and grieve those they lost.

“Bringing this event back to Dartmouth’s campus means a lot to me, and the campus community as a whole,” Ethan Dixon, chair of the student-led planning committee for the walk, wrote in an email. “The pandemic was isolating for many, and for that reason, this kind of event is especially vital now — it raises awareness of mental health struggles and suicide, and publicizes campus and local resources for those struggling to find help.”

On Sunday, May 7, the Out of Darkness Walk — an American Foundation for Suicide Prevention-sponsored event that takes place on campuses nationwide — will come back to Dartmouth.

Registration begins at 9 a.m. and the walk starts at 10 a.m. at Tuck Circle at the end of Tuck Mall.

Participants can also register ahead of time at afsp.org/dartmouth and are asked to make a donation, or fundraise on behalf of the event.

Well-behaved dogs are welcome.

“Outside of the fundraising, the Out of the Darkness Campus walk is a vital chance to come together as a community and mourn our losses,” wrote Dixon, a rising senior at Dartmouth who entered college during the pandemic. “Community is a vital thing, especially at a small school like Dartmouth, and the pandemic took that from us.”

Those pandemic experiences shaped Dixon and he became increasingly involved raising awareness about mental health and suicide prevention. He noted that Dartmouth has lost multiple students to suicide in recent years.

“However, the fast-paced nature and intensity of Dartmouth often limits our ability to reflect on those losses, pay tribute to those individuals and raise awareness so our community can heal,” Dixon wrote. “This event is our opportunity to do just that — reflect.”

He emphasized that the event isn’t just for Dartmouth students and staff. It’s for the whole community. While the event is meant to raise awareness and funds, it’s also meant to unite people.

“More broadly, it is a reminder to those who are facing struggles that our community is here for them,” Dixon wrote. “Too often, students and community members sit alone with their mental health struggles.”

Editor’s note: Those in need can call the 24/7 Crisis-Suicide Hotline at 603-448-4400 or 1-800-273-TALK or text 988. Dartmouth College students can call the UHelp Crisis Line at 833-646-1526 or the Dartmouth Counseling Center at 603-646-9442. Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.

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