Participants in the Walk for Hope in Walz Fieldhouse on Feb. 9 gathered in solidarity for those who have lost loved ones to suicide. Photo by Sonja Brandt.
by Daniel Heitshusen
Concordia hosted the Walk for Hope, coordinated by the Seward County Suicide Prevention Coalition, on Feb. 9.
“The purpose of this event is to provide hope and help to the citizens of Seward County,” campus nurse Andreea Baker said in an email interview. “The focus is more on the resources that are available to individuals and their families if they need help.”
The Walk for Hope began at 6:30 p.m. with an opening statement by Baker and an opening prayer by campus Pastor Ryan Matthias. Participants were encouraged to walk around on the track in the field house in memory of those who lost their lives by suicide, and to bring hope to those who are struggling.
“Whether someone is struggling themselves, or a friend or family member is, we want people to know that there are resources, and there are people who love and care for them,” junior Maggie Goltz said in an email interview.
Many different local organizations that help in the fight against suicide set up tables at the event, such as Mourning HOPE, Metschke Counseling Center, the Four Corners Health Department, and Nebraska Buddy Check to name a few. Bounce houses were set up for any children present, and a praise band of Concordia students and staff played background music.
In the center of the Walz Fieldhouse, 1,100 shoes were laid out along with 22 pairs of combat boots representing the 1,100 college students who die by suicide each year and the 22 active service members who die by suicide each day. The shoes were also seen on campus on the steps of the Janzow Holthus Plaza the week prior to this event.
“Seeing the statistics and the actual shoes representing what could be their own classmate or friend really hits hard…We hope students and faculty respond by wanting to get behind the idea of supporting each other’s mental health,” Goltz said.
Participants also had an opportunity to write an encouraging note or the name of a loved one who passed away by suicide on a paper bag. A battery-powered candle was then placed in each bag, and the bags were placed around the track. Near the end of the event, everyone was given glow sticks, and the lights were dimmed so the participants could focus on giving hope to those alive and remembering those who have passed away.
All proceeds made from T-shirts and any other extra proceeds will go to the Seward County Suicide Prevention Coalition.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please see the resources below:
Free Resources for Concordia Students:
Pastor Ryan Matthias: email@example.com
Campus Nurse Andreea Baker: firstname.lastname@example.org
Campus Counseling Office: email@example.com
Free Resources for Anyone:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
CenterPointe Crisis Response Line: 402-475-6695
Text START to 741-741
Bryan West Emergency Department, 2300 S. 16th Street, Lincoln, NE
If you are interested in learning some basic ways to help someone else who might be struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts, Baker said Concordia will be hosting Question Persuade Refer (QPR) training on Wednesday, Feb. 13.