Every year since 2012, I have participated in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's Out of the Darkness Walk at Rockland Lake in honor of my friend Will Maiano. In addition to that walk, this year I also decided to participate in the Out of the Darkness Walk that would be taking place on Binghamton's campus.
At each walk, there is always a table that hands out beaded necklaces of various colors, all with different meanings. The most common color you will see is a dark blue, which stands for supporting the cause. At the walk at Rockland Lake, I most commonly saw people wearing blue beads as well as purple beads which mean that you've lost a friend or family member to suicide.
Knowing this, when I showed up to the campus walk I took a blue and purple necklace off of the table as usual. Looking around, I thought I had made a mistake because I saw so many students wearing green beads. When I looked back at the sign to read the meaning of each color, I felt a sadness deep within me while reading that the meaning of the green beads was a personal struggle or attempt.
It was obviously a different atmosphere, being at a campus walk showed me just how many kids struggle and are willing to admit that they've struggled. I think it's important that those that struggle find a way to come together with each other, help one another, and raise money for the cause.
Attending one of AFSP's walks is very powerful and can easily put things into perspective for anyone. When those students wearing the green beads see weeping parents wearing white beads (symbolizing the loss of a child) or kids wearing the orange beads (symbolizing loss of a sibling) or even the purple beads, I hope they realize how significant their lives are. Every person on this planet is here for a reason and it pains me to see that people struggle with the idea that their own life matters.
In light of recent events here at Binghamton, I've seen just how much one person's life can change others around them. Joao Souza's life was tragically taken away from him when he still had so much to offer this world. His death had a ripple effect on the entire campus, whether they knew him personally or not.
If you do struggle, you are not alone and you shouldn't be afraid to ask for help. But I want you to know that your life matters, you have a purpose here and you shouldn't give that up. I know you face dark thoughts, but you don't have to face them alone. I hope that those wearing the green beads at these walks are able to see just how much they're life matters, how much they still have to offer the world and other people, and that they are still here for a reason. There is no other you in this world.