The Suicide Awareness and Prevention Office will host the “Not Another Aggie” walk on Sept. 10, with activities starting at 7 p.m. and the walk starting at 8:15 p.m. in Rudder Plaza.
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and next Tuesday’s walk is the first of several activities planned in observance. Santana Simple, assistant director for the Suicide Awareness and Prevention Office, said the date for the walk holds special significance as it is World Suicide Prevention Day. Candles will be lit at 8 p.m. for attempt survivors, those who lost their lives and all of those who are struggling.
Annabeth Reeb, Class of 2017, worked to get the walk established at Texas A&M in the fall of 2016 after her godbrother took his own life at the University of Alabama. Reeb said she started reading up on the university’s suicide prevention resources and looking for ways to get involved.
“I wanted to find a way to transfer my pain into a helpful situation,” Reeb said. “They had a suicide outreach coordinator and things like that, so I reached out to them, and we kind of came up with the idea to bring a walk on campus.”
Getting engrossed in all the preparations for the walk helped Reeb work through what she was feeling, but it also helped many students who were unaware of the resources provided by the university.
“Our whole goal was to start a conversation so we could end this stigma around mental health,” Reeb said. “Let students come together, hear from survivors, hear that they are not alone, hear that the campus has all these resources and see another side of the A&M community.”
During September, Simple’s office will be sending out information, messages of hope, and a schedule for training and individual programs available throughout the month. The office will also be introducing the Kognito simulation program to guide students through the process of evaluating symptoms and eventually offering help to those struggling.
Last year the walk brought out around 1,000 students, and Simple said they’re hoping even more will attend this year. The students do more than walk, Simple said. They provide hope and support for many students, faculty and staff.
“The students make signs that are put around campus as they walk, and that can be life-changing for a struggling individual,” Simple said.
There will also be signs highlighting the walking path, allowing students to join at any time.
“I just invite everyone to come out with us, whether they can come after class or whenever, and walk with us,” Simple said.