Operation Bear Hug: Suicide awareness the goal

Operation Bear HugCSU’s Student Veteran Organization is hoping a little competition will inspire better understanding of suicide and prevention.

The third annual Operation Bear Hug 5K will be held Saturday, April 13, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The unique “race” will begin and end in the middle of campus, near the lagoon. It is free and open to all interested participants.

“We want to bring attention to suicide awareness and prevention,” said Acacia Mohr, a junior biology major who serves as vice president of CSU’s SVO. “This race – it’s really an obstacle course – gives participants the opportunity to identify some of the signs of suicide, from depression to isolation to behaviors like suddenly starting to give away personal items.”

The event features five-person, co-ed teams; you can form your own team, or the SVO can add you to an existing team. Teams collaborate to overcome various tests and obstacles throughout the 3.1-mile course that winds throughout campus.

“It gets to the point where individuals know they can’t handle the challenges without help, and that’s when teammates step in,” Mohr said. “It really is a unique way to make people aware of the challenges people face.”

Event is unique to CSU

Student-veterans at CSU created the unique event three years ago as a way to de-stigmatize the conversation surrounding suicides among veterans, CSU students and the Northern Colorado community.

For Mohr and Michael Doyle, a junior majoring in natural resource management who serves as financial officer for SVO, the issue hits home. Both knew fellow soldiers in the Army who had contemplated suicide.

“When I was in Korea I had friends who were really depressed and basically just shut down,” Doyle said. “There are so many resources available for people but they just don’t take advantage of them. That’s why we do this event – to raise awareness.”

Register by Thursday, April 11

You can download a team entry form from the Operation Bear Hug Facebook page, or pick one up at the Adult Learner and Veteran Services office in the Lory Student Center. Teams and individuals are asked to register by Thursday, April 11.

There will be live music and a fun, family atmosphere at the event.