RIO GRANDE, Ohio — With COVID restrictions still in place, Rio’s 5th annual Out of the Darkness Walk will be held throughout the month with participation virtual.
According to a news release, the University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College “is still going big to raise awareness for mental health and suicide prevention.”
URG/RGCC will place over 7,500 luminarias at their main campus on April 24 beginning at noon with lunch provided for volunteers. Luminarias may be sponsored for $1 either online or at any of the regional campuses throughout the month. Local businesses and community organizations from Jackson, Gallia, Meigs, and Vinton Counties will help with the set up throughout the day beginning at noon. Gallia-Jackson-Meigs ADAMH board and other county prevention coalitions are also collaborating partners for this event.
The yearly event supports the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s education and support programs and its bold goal to reduce the annual U.S. rate of suicide 20 percent by the year 2025.
Many sponsors of the luminarias have decorated them in remembrance of someone lost to suicide or as a way to send thoughts of someone struggling. Rio Grande Jackson Center will be extending hours this Saturday, April 17 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. for anyone wishing to come in and sponsor.
“It’s pretty amazing to see the four-county area the University of Rio Grande serves, Vinton County, Meigs County, Gallia County, and Jackson County (Meigs, Gallia, and Jackson with some of the highest suicide rates in Ohio), come together to highlight suicide and mental health in our areas, and work together to bring resources to our communities,” said Dr. Courtney Ruggles, assistant professor of Social Work and Out of the Darkness Committee co-chair.
“I think that’s the part that really gets me in the ‘feels’, seeing the members of our communities rise together to show the world that we know we’ve suffered from suicide and mental health in our areas,” Ruggles added.
The Out of the Darkness Walk at Rio is one of more than 550 Out of the Darkness Overnight, Community and Campus Walks being held nationwide this year. The walks are expected to unite more than 300,000 walkers and raise millions for suicide prevention efforts. Last year, these walks raised over $21 million for suicide prevention.
“These walks are about turning hope into action,” said AFSP CEO Robert Gebbia. “The research has shown us how to fight suicide, and if we keep up the fight, the science is only going to get better, and our culture will get smarter about mental health. With the efforts of our courageous volunteers, and a real investment from our nation’s leaders, we hope to significantly reduce the suicide rate in the United States.”
For more information about the 5th annual Out of the Darkness Walk Light Up Rio event or how your organization can get involved, please visit rio.edu/OOTD.
News release provided by the University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College.