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URI to stage mental-health awareness, suicide prevention, walk and run

Providence Journal - 10/16/2017

Oct. 16--SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. -- As it continues to build a national leadership role in mental-health awareness on college campuses, the University of Rhode Island on Friday will sponsor a run and walk aimed at preventing suicide, the second highest cause of death among Americans from age 15 to 34, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

"It's a somber topic, but this is not a sad event," said Sarah Miller, Feinstein Center for Service Learning coordinator. "I like to think of it as an encouraging and hopeful event, during which those who have lost someone to suicide can remember them and find community support, while at the same time, we can provide awareness and resources to those struggling and their family and friends trying to help them. "

The run and walk will take place during URI's Alumni and Family Weekend. All proceeds will go to the Heather Fund, which supports URI Counseling Center services. The fund was started by Josephine and Roger Vennewald in 1996 after losing their daughter, Heather, to suicide while she was a URI senior.

"We are excited about holding the event Friday evening of Alumni and Family Weekend, since we believe more alumni, students, faculty and staff will be able to participate," Miller said.

According to URI, the Be 5K event "has raised tens of thousands of dollars since it was launched by the Feinstein Center for Service Learning nine years ago as an American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Out of the Darkness Walk. It has grown and adapted over the years so that all proceeds remain at URI to increase attention and support for mental-health issues."

The event will include a remembrance of those lost to suicide. It also receives support from the Marc's Awareness and Research to Combat Suicide Foundation, established by URI alumni Robert and Joy Abrams in honor of their son Marc, who died by suicide in 2014 at the age of 26.

In recent weeks, URI has hosted the second annual Fresh Check wellness day and implemented a school-wide Mental Health First Aid program, the first college in Rhode Island to do so and one of the few in the nation, although the number is rising.

Participation is $15 for students, elders and military veterans and active members, and $25 for the public. Check-in and same-day registration begins at 4:30 p.m. Friday. To register online, visit www.raceentry.com/races/be5k/2017/register

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(c)2017 The Providence Journal (Providence, R.I.)

Visit The Providence Journal (Providence, R.I.) at www.projo.com

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