Campus, NWA Organizations Push for Suicide Awareness

By Lindsey Guimont

The Razorback Reporter

More than $40,000 has been raised toward awareness of suicide and research for prevention, organizers said this week after a successful event in Bentonville.

The Arkansas chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention presented the fourth annual Northwest Arkansas Out of the Darkness Walk Sunday. The event attracted loss survivors to commemorate those they lost to death by suicide and to promote prevention. Participants released yellow balloons at the end of the walk.

“We currently stand at over $40,000 raised and we have until the end of the year to raise more money,” Maureen Cover-Bryan, a loss survivor and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention volunteer, said in an interview.

Cover-Bryan participates in the foundation because she lost her son, Colin Bryan to death by suicide July 25, 2011, she said. Colin Bryan was an Army veteran paratrooper who was honorably discharged. He was being treated for mental illness up until his time of death.

“He was under care of a physician, a psychiatrist, under the care of the VA and he was receiving counseling,” Cover-Bryan said. “We knew he had suicidal thoughts and ideation and he was being medicated, yet still he had lots of problems and had been in and out of facilities for the last seven or eight months of his life.”

Cover-Bryan volunteers with the foundation, because they are the largest private provider of research funds for suicide, she said.

The Northwest Arkansas Out of the Darkness Walk was one of 320 such events nationwide. Organizations in northwest Arkansas are planning for more events throughout September. The Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks presented an event specifically for veterans, Sept. 9.

“We partnered with Arkansas Freedom Fund. It was a bike ride because one of the things that my passion here in Fort Smith is to get veterans involved in a cycling group. We have a cycling group named Project Hero Fort Smith,” said Ashley Moffett, suicide prevention coordinator for Veteran’s Health Care System of the Ozarks in Fayetteville and Fort Smith.

During the bike ride, Moffett said, they set up booths with awareness information and goodie bags with the Veterans Crisis Line phone number (800-273-8255). She also will set up similar booths at events throughout the month of September.

The University of Arkansas community is joining the effort to raise awareness and provide services for suicide prevention.

The Pat Walker Health Center will promote Let’s Talk, a program introduced on campus during the second week of September, said Michele Cooper, suicide prevention coordinator for Counseling and Psychological Services. Let’s Talk will be available in Bell Engineering on Tuesdays and the Arkansas Union on Fridays for students to be able to drop in and have a consultation with clinicians.

“It’s not traditional therapy, but it makes CAPS more accessible to everyone,” Cooper said.

Cooper and Counseling and Psychological Services also will participate in the Lane Marrs 5K Memorial Run in Fayetteville Sept. 16. They will have a table with officials from the Dean of Students offices and UofA Cares to provide information and support for anyone who needs it, she said.