Maryland chapter help raise more than $40k for suicide prevention

By Hannah Lang

The Diamondback

Junior CJ Pendleton first confided to his fellow Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity members last year that he had struggled with depression.

“I kept this a secret from everyone, and I realized I shouldn’t have felt that way,” the kinesiology major said to hundreds of people at Sunday’s Out of the Darkness walk, which started at McKeldin Library and lapped around the University of Maryland campus.

Pendleton is a student coordinator of the walk at this university — now in its fourth year — which aims to raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. This year, 579 registered students raised more than $40,000, making the walk the nation’s largest Out of the Darkness walk so far this year.

There will be 100 walks held this spring around the country, AFSP Maryland Area Director Serena Schreiber said. The money raised from this walk, which lasted about an hour and a half, will go “across the state and in the community” to provide educational resources, outreach and support to families affected by suicide, she said.

Lambda Chi Alpha, Alpha Chi Omega, Maryland Active Minds and the Maryland Help Center sponsored the event. It was the second walk that Lambda Chi Alpha and Alpha Chi Omega sponsored.

“We reached out to AFSP and said we wanted to help out, so we helped out a lot last year, and then this year we wanted to do it again,” said Jacob Katinsky, the walk’s coordinator and a Lambda Chi Alpha member.

Katinsky said he was inspired to get involved with the walk to support Pendleton.

“I just think the whole cause is good because mental illness is really one of the biggest problems we have across the world, but it’s one of the least talked about,” the junior marketing and psychology major said. “It’s kind of like a rising cause.”

This university itself has struggled with providing mental health services to students on the campus. The University Health Center’s mental health services has anywhere from 50 to 90 appointments a day but still has to make students with “nonurgent” cases wait two to three weeks to meet with a psychotherapist, according to a November Diamondback article.

Claudia Gomez, a sophomore animal sciences major and Alpha Chi Omega member, said suicide and depression are important issues to her and her chapter.

“It really hits home for some people, so we thought it was a good idea to be a co-sponsor,” she said.

While Schreiber has only been working with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention for a year, she said she has already seen widespread support from this university’s students.

“I just hope that everyone comes out and celebrates their hard work up to this point and has fun and remembers loved ones if they’ve lost someone,” she said. (Via The Diamondback)

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