Hold On You Matter walk inspires mental health awareness

Promoting suicide prevention and mental health awareness within the community, Bucks County Community College hosted the “Hold On You Matter” suicide prevention walk on November 6.


Arrowhead photo by Sierra Lauer

Growing positive…At the Hold on You Matter Walk on November 6, members of the Peyton Heart Project Club create flowers and write positive messages to themselves or others. The Hold on You Matter Walk took place on the Bucks County Community College campus.

By gathering the community to raise awareness about suicide prevention, Bucks County Community College (BCCC) held its annual Hold On You Matter Walk on November 6.
According to walk coordinator Kyle Esposito, the event’s purpose is to instill a message of hope. “This event is meant to inspire others in the community that no matter what, the world will not be better off without anyone,” Esposito said.
For some community members, the walk holds an even deeper meaning.
“Supporting suicide prevention programs is important to me both professionally and personally,” guidance couselor Alison Kircher said. “The loss of one life is too many and I have felt the effects of losing loved ones to suicide.”
The walk featured several speakers, as well as resources on site for anyone wishing to talk or learn more about sucide prevention. The event also included reading the names of all of the community members who have died by suicide.
“The event brings me to tears when you hear the speakers and listen to the names of students, family, friends and community members who have died by suicide,” Kircher said. “From a personal perspective, the event has empowered my daughters to be active in suicide prevention at their schools and in their personal lives.”
The opportunity to speak with not only trained professionals, but to others in the community, is a resource that some members of the event found greatly beneficial.
“It’s okay to not feel okay….as long as peers know the difference between needing to go to an adult and venting. I feel we are going to be okay,” Esposito said.
According to mental health program coordinator Wendy Flanigan, recognizing warning signs quickly is vital towards suicide prevention. “We are here for you and the sooner that we can help you, the better,” Flanigan said. “It is not just postvention, it is prevention. What we know is that the earlier someone reaches out is preventing someone else from suicide.”
On BCCC’s campus, administration is spreading awareness for students.
According to BCCC dean Rodney Altemose, faculty is “planting the seed.”
“It can just be awareness to plant the seed sometimes,”Altemose said. “We are planting the seed to make sure students are aware that they can talk to someone.”
Volunteers helped organize the event for the community. “It takes a village. Everyone at the event put an effort in to help not only themselves, but each other,” Altemose said.
Due to COVID-19, some individuals have struggled more with their mental health. “The last 18 plus months have been challenging for many people dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent quarantine,” Kircher said. “We have seen a rise in mental health concerns for our students and their families dealing with depression and anxiety for a variety of reasons.”
The event also acts as a fundraiser for community resources dedicated to mental health awareness.