The Husky Help & Hope (H3) Walk is an annual two-mile walk hosted by Huskies for Suicide Prevention and Awareness (HSPA) and Forefront Suicide Prevention. The event is held on campus, beginning at the Sylvan Grove and will move through some of the most occupied and scenic areas on the UW Seattle campus.
In 2012, three UW students decided to come together to put on what was named the Out of Darkness Walk on campus in memory of those close to them that died by suicide. After seeing the success of this event, the group decided to continue spreading the message by establishing HSPA the following fall.
The H3 Walk has since raised money for Suicide Prevention Programs and typically draws around 800 people from all around the community. Organizers of the H3 Walk aim to draw 1,000 participants and to raise $12,500 at the May 19 event. Registration is available online.
The 29 schools currently involved in the FIS program have spent the past three years assembling and training teams of administrators, teachers, parents and students in the organization’s suicide prevention curriculum, LEARN™. In that program, each letter represents a strategy: Look for signs; empathize and listen; ask about suicide; remove the danger; and next level of care, a reference to helping provide access to counseling and other resources.
“The Forefront in Schools program is helping schools to move from a crisis response to prevent student suicides further upstream to a greater awareness of mental health and social and emotional learning,” said Forefront co-founder and faculty director Jennifer Stuber, a UW associate professor in the School of Social Work.
Following the event, Forefront will also work with the HSPA and their members to become peer trainers for LEARN so they can continue to educate the UW Campus on suicide prevention.
“The fundraising goal for each walk is related to supporting future and current projects and campaigns which target reducing prejudice around mental health, encouraging help seeking, and promoting mental health on campus,” HSPA President Hannah Jeong said. “Along with this are more personal goals to honor those who have been lost, support those who have been affected by suicide, and break the stigma surrounding mental health issues.”
HSPA hopes to create connections to the community and to provide educational training to allow people to recognize those in need and to safely guide them to appropriate community resources.
“As a community-wide event, we hope to inspire other universities or communities as a model for suicide prevention towards systemic change,” Jeong said. “The walk brings an important message for those who might be starting to cope with mental illness. I think the first step to starting to cope with mental illness is knowing that you are not alone and that there are people who have gone through similar experiences.”
“I am hoping to share my own personal story at the Walk,” HSPA Program Director Andy Pace said. “When I was going through difficult times, hearing other people’s experiences inspired me. After years of getting to where I am now, I hope [my story] can help someone who can relate.”
The hope for this year again is for HSPA to create a safe, open space for people to connect, and to be engaged in sharing mental health experiences such as the story Andy Pace shared with us below.
“Mental health has played a huge role in my life, from my own struggles with it to friends and family who have been through their own battles as well the challenges that were faced because of the stigma,” Pace said. “The H3 Walk is a chance to get together with hundreds of others who also relate in this way. It is a powerful experience that, while difficult to talk about, gives a sense of hope that someday everyone who is struggling will be able to find help.”
“HSPA believes that mental illness does not define an individual, but rather is a part of one’s identity,” Jeong said. “We aim to shift the stigma surrounding mental health issues by gathering a large number of attendees and having speakers at the event to remind all of us that we all are in this fight together.”
This event is a fundraiser, and you can also volunteer. There will have food, inspirational speakers, musical acts, and a drawing for prizes provided by our sponsors. T-shirts will be available for sale at the event and donations are encouraged.
“Be kind to others and to yourself,” Jeong said. “Everyone is welcome. We want this walk to be a community event.”
Story by Praphanit Doowa.
The Husky Help & Hope Suicide Prevention Awareness Walk begins at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 19 at the UW Sylvan Grove Theater and Columns. Registration is available here.
For more information on the H3 Suicide Prevention and Awareness Walk, contact HSPA here. For information on suicide prevention outreach and other Forefront programs, please contact Kristen Morgan at email@example.com.