PLATTSBURGH — Maggie Edward’s brother and her best friend died by suicide.
That’s why she organizes the SUNY Plattsburgh Out of the Darkness Campus Walk, which this year takes place from 2 to 3 p.m. this Saturday.
The event is designed to raise awareness about suicide and bring in money for American Foundation for Suicide Prevention programs.
This is the fourth year Edwards has chaired the event; her sorority, Alpha Epsilon Phi, also pitches in.
After her brother, Willie, died in 1999, Edwards had been going to a suicide awareness walk in Buffalo with her family.
Organizing the campus walk helped her grow and supported her in her grief.
“It was a huge hurdle for me,” she said. “It’s important to help our students be aware of suicide. It’s not something we should be silent about.”
Edwards said the walk is also a way for people to meet other survivors, connect with them, share their experiences and know that they are not alone in their grief.
About 276 people participated last year, and as of Wednesday, at least 200 people had already registered for this year’s walk, she said.
“We had a few families come from Lake Placid, as well, last year, and my family and friends also come to the walk every year from Buffalo.”
Participants can also make donations on the Suicide Prevention website or before the walk, with cash, check or credit card.
“Our participants increase every year, and I hope we’re able to reach our $7,000 goal,” Edwards said.
‘SUICIDES ON THE RISE’
Participants will be able to buy memory quotes made by survivors, pins, ribbons and memory beads at the walk, as well as raffle tickets for several gift certificates from local shops and restaurants.
“We have always been very supported by the community,” Edwards said. “I think it’s good, because the number of suicides in Clinton County has increased, especially for college students with alcohol and self-medication problems.”