Funds, Awareness Raised at OOTD 2016

Members of the Arkansas Tech University community and beyond raised more than $17,000 to support suicide prevention by participating in the 2016 Out of the Darkness Campus Walk on the Russellville campus on Saturday.

“Suicide affects individuals of all ages, races, both genders and all socioeconomic backgrounds,” said Dr. Robin E. Bowen, Arkansas Tech president, while addressing the crowd assembled in front of the Doc Bryan Student Services Center before the third annual walk. “Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among college students. Depression is common, much more so than people know. If you know someone who is depressed, ask them to get help.”

Additional speakers included Randy Horton, mayor of Russellville; Zach Schwartz, secretary of internal affairs for Arkansas Tech Student Government Association; and Tyler West of the Arkansas chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Kristy Davis, associate dean for student wellness at Arkansas Tech, and Tonya Gosnell, community education manager at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center, were recognized by West for their roles as co-chairs of the event and its top-10 national fundraising ranking each of the last two years. West said that the campus walk at Arkansas Tech generates funds on par with that of the walk at the University of Texas at Austin.

Kevin Hemphill and Tyler Vaughn, Sigma Pi fraternity brothers of the late Jake Caviness, shared their testimony about losing someone close to them to suicide. Caviness died on July 31, 2015.

“We were shipwrecked and clueless,” said Vaughn. “We were looking for something to keep us afloat, and we found it in Jake’s memory. He set the bar high with the legacy he left behind. His legacy is one of honesty, trustworthiness, kindness and providing a foundation to make others better. He brought life to the phrase, ‘I am my brother’s keeper.’ Jake was always there for his buddies.”

Hemphill spoke of how he felt regret and denied his emotions in the days following the loss of his fraternity brother, and how everyone in attendance should carry the spirit of the campus walk with them on a daily basis.

“We don’t walk for just today,” said Hemphill. “We must walk together all of our lives. By doing so, we can walk together out of the darkness and into the light.”