Event to support suicide prevention, awareness for a third year in a row

An event to raise awareness of suicide prevention and work to provide healing and support to those affected by suicide will be hosted at South Dakota State April 16.

With the partnership of Lost and Found and the Helpline Center in Sioux Falls, the Step Forward to Prevent Suicide will include a 5K run and one-mile walk followed by a short remembrance ceremony and a raffle.

“This event is a huge way for us to fundraise for suicide prevention and awareness,” said Natalie Pillatzki, senior business economics major and Lost and Found vice president. “[It] brings people from the community and campus together in support of something that really affects everyone.”

This is the event’s third year in Brookings. Last year around 300 people participated. Event organizers encourage donations or fundraising because there is no registration fee. T-shirts will also be available for purchase.

“[W]e do not have a registration fee, which is kind of unique simply because we do not want to turn anyone away that feels like the support and healing at these events is important for them,” said Janet Harvey, events coordinator at the Helpline Center. 

At the remembrance ceremony, there will be a moment of silence and the readings of comments by those affected by suicide about the people they have lost.

“Our event is different in that the survivors come together; they can help and support one another,” Harvey said. “They can see that there is hope and healing involved. It is very emotional from that perspective.”

Those who purchase raffle tickets will have the chance to win a Jasmine Acoustic Guitar, which was donated by the family of Connor Noteboom, an SDSU student who took his life in 2012. 

Proceeds raised from the Step Forward to Prevent Suicide will be split 50/50 between the Helpline Center and Lost and Found.

The Helpline Center uses the funds to provide suicide and depression awareness through training, prevention and survivor classes, which are also free of charge. The classes are for those impacted by suicide to learn how to deal with grief. 

Lost and Found’s main goals are to get a sizable turnout at the event and increase knowledge about what the organization does, said club Mollie Hublou, a senior human development and family studies major. 

“It means a lot for people to come out and support the organization,” Hublou said. “Suicide is an issue on campuses everywhere; it shouldn’t be ignored.”

To the Helpline Center, Harvey said, the importance of this event is to make suicide a word people aren’t afraid to say. 

“Don’t put a stigma to it. Let’s discuss it and put it out in the open,” Harvey said.

This year, the Step Forward to Prevent Suicide occurs on the same day as Jacks Give Back on the SDSU campus. Students will have the opportunity to volunteer and get involved with the event. 

If someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call 1-800-273-8255 or text 828211 SDSU for assistance. The Helpline Center is open 24 hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year.