Walk of Hope Poster

COLUMBUS, Miss.-- Hope is the guiding light for Angela Orsborn and Rob’Dreka Shaw.

Orsborn and Shaw plan to share that feeling at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 5, when they help lead the inaugural Walk of Hope to raise awareness about suicide. The free event, which is sponsored by the Mississippi University for Women Counseling Center and the Department of Nursing, is open to the public and will start at The W’s Nissan Auditorium and work through the center of campus. Participants will receive a ribbon to show solidarity in the effort to increase awareness about the suicide and the issues and feelings that lead to it.

“We are trying to help the same people,” said Orsborn, an ASN instructor in The W’s School of Nursing. “We are trying to educate our nurses about mental health. The Counseling Center is trying to help people who have mental health problems. It is a natural thing for us to come together.”

Orsborn said her students need to have hours in community service, so she brainstormed ways they could get involved. Since she is a psychiatric nurse and family practice practitioner who also has experience as a first responder with fire departments, Orsborn thought a walk to raise awareness about suicide would be an ideal event.

Orsborn has learned about the importance of hope through her psychiatric evaluations. She said she talks about and asks her patients about hope all of the time because they need to have it to help push them through their daily battle.

“If there is something, somewhere they feel hopeless about, then they have hit rock bottom,” Orsborn said. “I want the Walk of Hope to show survivors of suicide to know there is hope for them if they will just pick their heads up and quit looking at the floor because of the stigma around it and they can reach out to other people.”

Orsborn said she has a personal history with suicide, so she knows people need to be aware of the warning signs and ways they can help people with mental health issues.

Orsborn and Shaw hope the Walk of Hope can grow and evolve, possibly into a fundraiser like the annual Out of the Darkness Walks held nationally through the American Society for Suicide Prevention. Orsborn said she attended one of those events in Oxford and is excited to bring an event that helps break down the stigma associated with mental health issues.

Orsborn added it was a natural fit to partner with Shaw and Counseling Services at The W. City leaders and officials have been invited to the event, and everyone at The W is encouraged to attend.

“We have events every month for certain causes, and we always do one for suicide awareness in September,” said Shaw, a licensed professional counselor. “This was following Walk a Mile in Her Shoes: The International Men’s March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault & Gender Violence” that was held on campus in April.”

Shaw said the counseling center typically works with other departments and organizations on campus to organize events. This is the first time the center has collaborated with the Department of Nursing. Shaw and Orsborn feel the partnership will educate more students and people about mental health issues.

“There is a lot of stigma around mental health in general,” Shaw said. “Just saying that the counseling center is doing this event, we may not have a lot of participation from our students. However, when we work with different organizations and departments on campus we get a lot more participation and we get a lot more feedback.”

“I think it is something that has to be done, and the more we talk about it the more students will open up about it. I hope we do start to talk about suicide and that it becomes a conversation and people get some sign of hope and they go talk to somebody about what they’re feeling and what they see around them and maybe they can help somebody.”


September 3, 2019
Contact: Adam Minichino
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