The Eastern Kentucky University psychology department is hosting the second Walk for Hope on Saturday, Sep. 24. The Walk for Hope is held by the EKU National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) club and was last hosted in 2015. NAMI is a student club at EKU that wants to bring awareness to mental health and educate the campus community. 

The walk is being held to raise awareness about suicide, especially among college students, and to connect them with mental health resources on campus. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for college students, said EKU psychology professor Dr. Melinda Moore.

The Walk for Hope will include numerous speakers, some who will tell their own stories, and others who will speak as mental heath professionals, including Beck Whipple, the statewide suicide prevention coordinator for Kentucky’s Department of Behavioral Health. Whipple holds training events around Kentucky which emphasize suicide prevention. 

The founder of Chloe’s Petals for Hope, Susan Rogers, will also be present at the event. According to Chloe’s Petals for Hope, Chloe’s Petals is an organization that, “hopes to break the silence and stigma surrounding mental health and suicide awareness by educating advocacy with authenticity and sincerity.” The organization’s namesake, Rogers’ daughter Chloe, was an EKU graduate who died of suicide in June 2020. 

EKU students Bea Parks, Trent Dolter and Chance Taylor will be speaking, along with Mark Cain from Shelby’s Way, another suicide prevention organization whose goal is to be of service to Kentucky individuals.

In honor of those who lost their lives to suicide, Dustin Wygant and Myra Beth Bundy, psychology professors at EKU, will be presenting songs. There will also be a homage to James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain,” a song about suicide loss. The EKU marching band and color guard will also be in attendance. 

Wygant was involved in the first Walk of Hope in 2015. Since then, Wygant said the effects of the first walk have given him a lot of hope for suicide prevention. 

“I would say the hope has only grown since then,” said Wygant. “Our students are out there saving lives because of the skills they have learned.” 

Therapists who specialize in suicide prevention will be attending and sponsoring the event. 

“There are a lot of people left behind grieving these difficult deaths. This is an opportunity for those people to honor their loved ones by decorating luminaria,” said Moore.

Decorated luminaria will be placed around the Ravine a way to remember and honor loved ones who have passed by suicide. Luminaria are paper lanterns with a candle or light inside. Attendees can admire the luminaria as they walk around the Ravine. 

EKU’s Walk for Hope will begin at 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24 in the Ravine. It is expected to last until 10 p.m.

If you or a loved one is experiencing thoughts of suicide, please call 988.

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