URI’s 2021 Be 5K Walk/Run for Mental Health Awareness, Suicide Prevention to be held in-person Oct. 23

The University of Rhode Island’s 13th edition of the Be 5K Walk/Run for Mental Health Awareness and Suicide Prevention will return to the Kingston Campus as an in-person event Saturday, Oct. 23, at 10 a.m.

Last fall, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, runners and walkers participated individually at home or on campus and raised more than $2,000. 

This year, hundreds of participants will return to the campus Quadrangle to show support for those affected by suicide and mental health issues, create awareness of the issue and raise funds for campus mental health programs for students. The cost to register is $20 for URI students and $25 for general community members. See full race details and information on fundraising.

“We were thrilled with the participation last year, as people ran and walked on their own,” said Amy Albert, URI community engagement coordinator at URI’s Center for Career and Experiential Learning. “But we are so excited to come together again as a community for this dynamic and profound event. Similar to our events prior to the pandemic, we will have T-shirts, music, food and prizes for our top runners and walkers. And given the impact of COVID-19 on mental health and the need for even more resources, the return to a visible, high energy event has never been more important.

“We extend a warm welcome to our students, faculty and staff and to those around the region who would like to support this cause and be part of our supportive URI community,” Albert said.

Proceeds raised by the event go to the Heather Fund, a URI Foundation & Alumni Engagement fund established to support mental health programs for students. As in past years, URI student groups focused on mental health promotion will participate, as well as those from URI’s  Counseling CenterHealth ServicesCollege of NursingCampus Recreation, Center for Career and Experiential Education, and the Psychological Consultation Center.

The Heather Fund was established by the late Roger and Josephine Vennewald in 1996, on behalf of their daughter, Heather, a URI student, who they lost to suicide.

The event is called the Be 5K because it urges participants and the URI community to be compassionate, loving, hopeful, aware, present, happy and to be themselves to build a healthier community. It is the oldest community outreach event on campus dedicated to mental health promotion and suicide prevention.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health said that suicide is among the leading causes of death in the nation and that the problem has become even more critical during the pandemic. It is the second leading cause of death among college students. Mental health conditions are often seen as the cause of suicide, but the CDC adds that many people who die by suicide are not known to have a diagnosed mental health condition at the time of death. Other problems often contribute to suicide, such as those related to relationships, substance use, physical health, and job, money, legal, or housing stress.


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