‘Octavia’ holds its first suicide prevention walk

OSWEGO, N.Y. — According to provisional data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates in the United States have increased between 2021 and 2022.

At least 49,449 people died by suicide in 2022, a 2.6 percent increase from the previous year, according to the CDC. These findings are based on statistics from death certificates, though the CDC has noted that this data is “not yet fully reviewed.”

The report has shown that some groups had disproportionately higher rates of suicide than others, with the highest in 2021 being among non-Hispanic Whites and those who were identified as American Indian or Alaskan Native. The number of American Indians who reportedly died by suicide decreased dramatically between 2021 and 2022 by 6.1 percent, with 650 taking their lives last year. 39,255 men were reported to have died by suicide in 2022, whereas 10,194 women reportedly died by suicide.

Among age groups, those 65 and older saw the most dramatic increase in suicide rates, with 10,433 committing suicide in 2022 compared to 9,652 in 2021, an increase of 8.1 percent. Meanwhile, the number of suicides among those between the ages of 10 and 24 had dramatically decreased, with 6,529 committing suicide in 2022 compared to 7,126 in 2021. Regardless, the highest number of suicides took place among those between the ages of 25 and 44, with 16,843 being reported as having committed suicide in 2022.

The general increase in suicide rates, along with a seeming lack of recognition for National Suicide Prevention Week on campus, prompted the members of SUNY Oswego’s all-women’s acapella group Octavia to hold their own suicide prevention awareness walk on campus on October 24th. Known as “Together We Thrive,” the event began with a march from the Marano Campus Center food court to Sheldon Hall, with attendees walking past the lakeside dormitories of Scales, Waterbury, Riggs, and Johnson.

Once arriving at Sheldon, attendees were presented with a series of motivational speeches and performances from various on-campus student-run organizations, beginning with the martial arts club and ending with a performance of Post Malone’s “Landmine” by Octavia themselves.

“Obviously, it’s a really important cause and it should be recognized to its fullest,” Octavia member Bailey Thomas told reporters following the event. Thomas credited the group’s director, senior Faith Summerville who also serves as the managing editor for the Oswegonian, for originating the idea for “Together We Thrive” due to the disappointment over the aforementioned lack of recognition for National Suicide Prevention Week.

In a statement released on the group’s Instagram page, Summerville wrote that suicide awareness “signifies the critical importance of understanding, empathy, and support for those facing emotional despair. It’s a reminder that open conversations, mental health resources, and compassion can save lives and bring hope to those who need it most.”

SUNY Oswego’s Mary Walker Health Center currently provides counseling services to on-campus students. For students experiencing a crisis after hours, it is recommended that they call 315-312-4416. You can also call the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline 24-hours a day. Just dial 988 from any phone.