Gaming event in Cedar Rapids raises funds for suicide prevention

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) — For a group of people in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, battling monsters wasn’t just fun, it was a way to cope with the pressures of everyday life.

About 20 people attended the “Role on for Life” event at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, which focused on tabletop role-playing games and raised funds for the suicide prevention organization Alive and Running Iowa.

Dustin Puls was a Dungeon Master for a Dungeons & Dragons game during the event. Puls explained in D&D, players create characters. The Dungeon Master is the person who tells the game and creates problems for the characters to solve.

“I came into D&D at a very difficult time in life. And it helped me have an outlet, just to get away from anything and everything that was going on,” Puls said. “I’m here today in part because of Dungeons and Dragons.”

Puls said organizers contacted him and asked him to take part in the event two days after he lost a friend to suicide.

Tim Woodward organized the event. He also knows about mental health issues and the opportunities gambling can provide.

“I’m going through depression. So it’s kind of like, just going around, it takes me out of my life, and I become something that I’m not,” Woodward said. “I can be more me- same as in a normal society.”

The game helps participants express themselves and gives them a reason to hang out with friends and meet new people. Although the games are fantastic, gamers say the way they help with mental health is real.

“It’s just a great way to let loose,” said DJ Claussen, a participant. “I mean, I’m a weirdo. You know, in 2022, I wear mutton chops. I get to be me. Well, that comes from the game.”

Claussen continued, “You know, my characters in the game do what they want to do. And part of that has translated into my life. You know, I don’t care what people think of me. Be myself, be confident.

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