Nesley Bravo (second from left, front) and other organizers celebrate after the 2014 H3 walk. — Photo by Alexander Tran

H3 Walk is ‘beautiful’ journey of hope and strength

University of Washington social welfare senior Nesley Bravo is looking forward to her fourth annual campus walk for suicide prevention and awareness on Saturday, April 25. She loves the feeling of community and solidarity shared by those who are remembering someone lost to suicide and willing to talk about suicide ideation, attempts or prevention themselves. “It’s beautiful,” she says.

Bravo will be among hundreds of campus and community members joining Huskies for Suicide Prevention and Awareness (HSPA) and Forefront for the upcoming H3 Walk to support Husky Help & Hope, a UW initiative to improve suicide prevention and mental health on campus. The family-friendly event begins at 11 a.m. at the Center for Urban Horticulture on the UW’s East Campus. There will be short inspirational talks and a musical performance followed by a three-mile walk through the most scenic parts of the Seattle campus.

“It will be a time of comfort, strength and hope,” says HSPA president Emily Murphy. All proceeds will remain in the community to support:

• HSPA’s programs to promote mental health and suicide prevention at the UW, and• Forefront Cares, which provides peer counseling and care packages for people experiencing the loss of a loved one to suicide.

Bravo attended the first UW-student-led walk in 2011, both to honor family members who had experienced depression and suicidal ideation and to support her roommate, Juliana Borges, a principal organizer.  Bravo wrote a first-person reflection on the walk for the UW Daily and went on to serve with  co-founders Borges and Beau Castillo when they launched HSPA the following year.

After several years as volunteer coordinator, Bravo now is advising her successors, Delia Gomez and Rosanna Contreras, as part of a plan to make sure the organization continues to thrive after she and the other charter members graduate. “Julie has been great at creating sustainability,” she says. “Seeing the club continue on and how wonderful our new officers are brings me a lot of joy.

“I’m so proud of the growth that has occurred, of our partnership with Forefront and how far the club has come,” says Bravo. HSPA also has shaped her own social work values. She heads to Washington University in St. Louis this summer to pursue her Masters of Social Work with a holistic view of client care and the importance of her own wellbeing.

In the meantime, Bravo looks forward to her fourth year of participating in the H3 Walk. “Hearing people’s stories and seeing the support is so beautiful and so moving. I’m thankful to be a part of it.”

Click here to register for the walk. There is no registration fee, but donations are appreciated. — by Sue Lockett John