Aberystwyth University students came together for a suicide prevention walk on Sunday.
The walk was organised by Romana Nemcova, the girlfriend of 25-year-old Charlie McLeod who died earlier this year.
The aim of the walk is to encourage universities across the UK to promote student life with ‘more balance’ as well as improve their policy and procedures for assisting students with their mental health. It will also raise money for the charity group CALM, the campaign against living miserably.
Students met at 11:30am at the hut on Aberystwyth’s south beach before marching across the town’s promenade and around Constitution hill.
Romana Nemcova said: “The walk will raise money for the charity group CALM, the campaign against living miserably.
“It is important that university life is portrayed in a balanced way. Whilst life as a student can be the best time for people, it can also bring a unique set of challenges, such as homesickness, loneliness, pressure from exams and the difficulty of managing your finances. If universities show both sides of student life, they can let students know from the start that they are not alone, and that there are places they can go when they need help."
“We held our first protest in May after Charlie died, we realised the university underestimated the severity of his mental health, and we want to see changes in university policy and procedures.”
The campaign received national attention in the same month when it was discussed in a Senedd meeting at Cardiff Bay.
Romana said: “It was very surprising because we didn’t expect the campaign would reach the Welsh Government. We hope that with more pressure we can achieve more.”
Commenting on the march, a spokesperson for Aberystwyth University said: “At Aberystwyth University we recognise the challenges that face students as they establish their independence and embark on their studies.
“A new Suicide-Safer strategy has been developed that is designed to increase awareness of suicide in the context of the student experience and to increase our community’s confidence to play an active role in challenging the stigma still associated with mental health and in playing a part to prevent the risk of suicide.
“We have also established a new strategic partnership with Papyrus; Prevention of Young Suicide to deliver a University-wide suicide prevention and mental health awareness training programme for staff and students over the next three years. A new awareness raising campaign is also being developed to normalise wellbeing and mental health issues and direct students to the services and resources available.”