Out of the Darkness campus walk raises suicide prevention awareness

The Out of the Darkness event on Sunday, April 14 raised over $29,000 for the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. 

The Out of the Darkness event brought together venders, crafts and a community walk in a coordinated effort to raise awareness and funding for addressing the issue of suicide.

One walk through UNI’s campus on Sunday, April 14 was one of several across the country raising suicide prevention awareness.

For nine years the series of walks has been raising money for the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention.

Organizers say suicide is something we should be more comfortable talking about, yet it’s very difficult for anyone of any age to discuss this type of topic. On Sunday, the main goal was to raise awareness and the importance of talking about it and also to remember those we have lost to suicide and those who are still struggling with it today.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people aged 15 to 24, and the 10th leading cause of death overall in the United States.

Hailie Carlson, the event logistics coordinator, said, “Last year I was just on the marketing committee, so basically on the day of [the walk] I came in and did media and took photos. This year I’m our event logistics coordinator, so I help set up the reservations on campus. I plan our lap out. I make sure that everything is done safely and correctly, [and] I get the food and the drink.” 

“My goal of the day is to make sure everyone has what they need, all the vendors, all of the tables, and kind of direct people where to go at all times,” Carlson said. “I also supervise the actual walk, so I’m one of the members that will actually go out on the walk and make sure people know where they’re going. The walk just goes around UNI’s campus right now, so they weave in and out of places depending on where you are. It’s just a nice little walk through campus, and we end up back at the Gallagher Bluedorn.” 

Although it’s only a walk, Carlson said the whole purpose signifies so much more than that and helps to reduce the stigma of suicide every year. 

“Today was our annual Out of the Darkness walk, which is an event sponsored by the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. They have campus walks all over the country. This one is with UNI, so it’s sponsored through the counseling program and the Chi Sigma Iota Honors Society, so it includes students and counselors that are part of those programs,” Carlson said.

People from all walks of life went to the Out of the Darkness walk to help be there for others, prevent suicide and to receive help if they needed to. Carlson said, “What we do is we take a year to set up this event, and we raise funds for suicide prevention efforts. The whole goal of the walk is to reduce the statistics of suicide, and our goal is to get those numbers lower and lower every year.”

“Our walk has been a top 10 fundraising walk for the past few years. There are some campuses that are doing so much amazing work, like raising triple to double the amount that we do, but we’re still in the top 10, so that’s super exciting. Our total was just over $29,000 this year, which is record-breaking for our program here at UNI,” Carlson said.

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