The Advance-Titan

Annual 5k to raise awareness of mental health

The National Alliance on Mental Illness Oshkosh and Community for Hope will be hosting their annual Oshkosh 5k for Mental Health and Suicide Awareness at UW Oshkosh on Saturday, May 6.

Renae Swanson, one of the coordinators for the event, said NAMI Oshkosh and Community for Hope combine both of their efforts to hold this event every year.

Community for Hope and NAMI are focused on raising awareness of suicide and how to prevent it.

“They’re all about advocating for people who have mental health,” Swanson said. “They’re all about connecting people struggling with mental health issues.”

The event was originally hosted by a member of NAMI Oshkosh who lost someone to suicide.

This is NAMI’s third year hosting with UWO, while Community for Hope is in their second year of hosting.

All the proceeds from the event go toward programs that help provide support for education in the Oshkosh community about mental health issues and suicide prevention.

“NAMI does all these events like family-to-family and supporting each other,” Swanson said. “And we do peer-to-peer groups for people who have mental illness to support each other. And Community for Hope does a lot of education around the community, like going to schools.”

In past years, this event has attracted people from around the community, with some families returning every year to share their experiences and to talk about these issues.

“It is a huge event, like people look forward to it and it’s a way of remembering family members every year,” Swanson said. “They come, and I’m seeing the same people for years. And there’s certain families we know are going to be there.”

The event has several activities, like a wall dedicated to remembering and showing the number of people who have committed suicide.

“We have a memory wall where people can visit people that were important to them,” Swanson said. “Or have a visual representation of how many people were lost to mental illness and suicide.”

This event brings on many tears and emotions because it connects people who have gone through the same suffering, Swanson said.

“There’s often some tears, kind of missing, kind of the power of being with other people that have the same history,” Swanson said.

The event brings in speakers to talk about the loss of these people and how the community is affected, as well as a balloon release in remembrance of those lost.

“We can’t do [the balloon release] anymore because it endangers the birds,” Swanson said. “So we’re doing a new thing this year where we’re doing bells. So, as you ring your bell, the person you lost can hear it, kind of like a wish going to them.”

There are a couple ways people can participate in this event: by being a walker/runner in the 5k or volunteering for the event.

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Independent Student Newspaper of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Annual 5k to raise awareness of mental health