California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

    Honoring Those Lost by Saving Future Lives

    “Each year 44,965 Americans die by suicide and on average, there are 123 suicides per day,” according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website.

    The AFSP Out of the Darkness California Lutheran University Campus Walk on Saturday, March 3 at 8 a.m. in the Preus-Brandt Forum brought together a community of people who had either been touched by suicide in some way or were there to show support for those struggling.

    Allie Rubinowitz, a 21-year-old senior majoring in psychology, said she was the student co-chair of the walk and raised over $3,200 for Team Rubinowitz in honor of her dad who killed himself five years ago.

    Light in the darkness: Out of the Darkness participants walk to raise suicide prevention awareness and chant “#stopsuicide” as they walk through the Cal Lutheran campus and surrounding neighborhood. Photo by Rachel Holroyd- Photojournalist
    Light in the darkness: Out of the Darkness participants walk to raise suicide prevention awareness and chant “#stopsuicide” as they walk through the Cal Lutheran campus and surrounding neighborhood. Photo by Rachel Holroyd- Photojournalist

    “As much pain and suffering and grief that I went through, I also came out of it with a lot of hope,” Rubinowitz said.

    Traute Winters, AFSP area director of almost four years, said these walks are more than just fundraisers, but a way to educate and raise awareness about suicide.

    “These walks give faces to the people that have been affected by suicide,” Rubinowitz said.

    According to the website, AFSP’s goal for 2025 is to lower the annual suicide rate by 20 percent in the U.S.

    Community Co-chair and Master of Ceremonies Mike Matthew was on the AFSP Los Angeles Board of Directors for six years.

    “I got involved in 2004, very reluctantly. My brother died by suicide…14 years later and I still choke up,” Matthew said. “Once I got involved, it actually helped me work through the melancholy I was feeling.”

    Winters said her hope is that people will start treating mental illness like a physical illness and seek treatment before reaching the crisis point of being suicidal.

    Winters said most warning signs of suicidal behavior exhibit in “talk, mood and behavior,” such as talking about life being worthless or uncharacteristic changes in mood.

    “Suicide has forever been swept under the rug, and that’s what we’re used to, and it is such a scary topic to talk about,” Rubinowitz said.

    Winters said that a lot of people assume that someone else will reach out to a person in need, but often no one else does.

    “Talking directly about suicide is not going to put it in their mind if they’re already thinking about it. It’ll be a relief for them to be able to talk about it,” Winters said.

    In the hallway outside the Forum, there were tables with representatives, many of whom spoke at the opening ceremony, providing local resources for those struggling and for survivors of suicide loss. Some of the resources included Cal Lutheran’s Counseling and Psychological Services, local counseling, veteran outreach and Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services.

    Jacqui Irwin, the California Assemblymember for the 44th District, also spoke in the opening ceremony about legislation regarding suicide.

    According to the AFSP website, suicide is the 10th national leading cause of death.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2014 national suicide statistics, suicide is the second leading cause of death, following accidental injuries, for Americans 10 years old to 34 years old.

    “From my perspective, suicide is the leading cause of death for 10 to 34-year-olds, considering that accidents are accidents,” Matthew said.

    Rissa Gross
    Reporter