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The Antelope

The Antelope

Out of the Darkness Walk shines light on suicide prevention

JIYOON KIM / ANTELOPE STAFF The suicide prevention walk was held for the first time in-person last week.

Community members gathered last week for the first in-person American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: Out of the Darkness Walk. The event raised money for suicide prevention, spread awareness and provided support for grieving families. 

Last spring, a virtual event was held instead because of the pandemic. This time, the rainy weather moved the Out of the Darkness Walk indoors.

Many UNK students and community members shared personal connections to the event, which was held at Cushing Coliseum.

“This cause is really near and dear to my heart,” said Kelsey Woodard, a UNK sophomore and psychology club member. “March of 2016, I actually lost my grandpa to suicide, so I’m here to support the motion to prevent suicide and the help of those who are affected by suicide of their loved ones.”

Woodward was among approximately 50 participants who walked 12 laps around the indoor track, while positive music played over the speakers. 

The Out of the Darkness Walk raised $2,495 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The AFSP donates funds toward research, advocates on the national and local level, facilitates education programming and provides loss and healing programs. 

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death nationwide. It’s the second leading cause of death among Nebraska’s youth.

AFSP was among the organizations distributing mental health resources outside the event.

“This is so important that we take away the stigma and come together to save lives and bring hope to those affected to suicide,” said Cindi Horning, area director for AFSP in Nebraska.

The Out of the Darkness Walk was organized by UNK sophomores, Cassidy Johnson and Katie Braymen. The chapter, which advocates for the walk, became a registered student organization this year. 

“Me and Katie have been the two to do (the walk) both years,” Johnson said. “I have family members who have struggled with mental health, and I know Katie has as well. But overall, I think it’s just really important for people to be open about it.” 

The students were inspired by the community members who attended.

UNK cheer coach Krista Williams wore ‘Team Chase’ T-shirts with her family, in memory of Chase Williams.  

“It’s in support of my brother who committed suicide in November of (last) year,” Williams said. “When we signed up for the run, I think there was like four people signed up so far to do it, and so I kind of recruited a lot of people on my team and my family. I just think it’s nice — the different organizations that came out and supported.”

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