It was a crisp Saturday morning in March. The bright blue sky shined down on the hundreds of attendees gathered together to raise awareness for mental health. It was the eighth annual Break the Silence 5k held by the Sigma Pi Fraternity chapter at North Carolina State University.
The 420 participants gathered in solidarity to celebrate the beauty of life all while remembering that they are never alone in their struggles.
Live music floated through the air as people openly shared their struggles with mental health. One attendee who wished to remain anonymous mentioned “I struggle with mental health issues, I think it’s a part of life. It’s amazing to see everyone come together; it really makes me feel like I’m not alone.”
The Break the Silence 5K began in 2011 as an event hosted by Rho in memory of their brother, Marc Haege (North Carolina State ‘08), who took his life in 2010. Since its conception, the 5K has raised thousands of dollars for the North Carolina State Counseling Center, this year alone the chapter raised just over $11,000.
Sage Sam Covington (North Carolina State ‘19) pointed out the importance of hosting events such as the 5K, “we host this event in the hopes that those suffering seek help. By providing the Counseling Center these funds they can utilize resources to help combat the problems. We are making a difference, and we are saving lives.”
In 2015, the NCSU chapter partnered with Triangle Survivors of Suicide and have since raised and donated over $70,000 to the Suicide Prevention Fund at the NC State Counseling Center.
With these donations, the Counseling Center has trained thousands of students in QPR which stands for Question. Persuade. Refer., and teaches suicide prevention training, lifesaver training, and have started a mental health ambassador program for peers to educate the campus community on issues of health and wellness.
A moving moment was carried out before the race by David Hagan, the founder of Life Brothers; an organization brings men together in their struggles in life. He reminded the audience that they are never alone and that despite what society tells men, it is ok to cry and talk about the hardships of life. He stated “we all need love, acceptance, and hope. If we don’t discuss our fears and failures, we falsely assume we are in our never alone.”
Stop the stigma – don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Call the confidential suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text CONNECT to 741741