UWF students walk laps to celebrate those lost to suicide

By Steve Likovetz
Staff writer

Active Minds at the University of West Florida, with the help of the Sigma Xi fraternity, hosted their 8th annual Seeds of Hope 5K community walk on Saturday night at the UWF track.

The walk’s purpose is to remember those who have died from suicide and to give hope to those who may be struggling with thoughts of suicide. In previous years, the walk has been held downtown in conjunction with the annual turkey trot, but staff and students decided to return the walk back to the campus where it originated in hopes of attracting more student participation.

Students getting underway arm in arm during Saturday night’s Seeds of Hope 5K walk. (Photo by Steve Likovetz)

Active Minds’ mission is to fight the stigma of mental illness and help prevent college-age suicide. According to the club’s national website, more than 1,100 students die from suicide each year. Active Minds’ goal is to bring the conversation back into the forefront and help bring this statistic down.

“The walk is to commemorate those that we have lost to suicide and for people to see that there is still hope and there are people that care about them and what they’re going through,” Sydney Walker, president of Active Minds at UWF, said.

Elli Gentile lost her best friend to suicide, so she walked to help bring awareness to the issue.

Messages were written along the track during the Seeds of Hope 5K walk on Saturday night. (Photo by Steve Likovetz)

“Life is really hard and people struggle going through things and these events help with awareness and to show them that they are not alone,” Gentile said. “This walk helps people understand that a kind word or gesture could make the difference and keep even one more person from taking their own life.”

The night brought more than 50 people to the track. Each lap of the 5K walk was designed with a specific theme. It began with all walkers linked arm in arm to demonstrate togetherness.

Students blow bubbles walking a lap for the Seeds of Hope 5K walk on Saturday night. (Photo by Steve Likovetz)

Other laps included blowing bubbles around the track and holding or wearing glow sticks to light up the night. The event is growing year by year and Active Minds hopes to build on this year to make a bigger impact on campus next fall.

Contact Active Minds at activeminds@uwf.edu or call Counseling and Psychological Services at 474-2420 if you would like to help end the stigma or are struggling with thoughts of suicide.

One Response to UWF students walk laps to celebrate those lost to suicide

  1. Harold A Maio says:

    —-Active Minds’ mission is to fight the stigma of mental illness ???

    Active minds fight people who direct that prejudice , they do not repeat them.

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