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The Antelope

Out of Darkness Walk: American Foundation of Suicide Prevention holds 4th annual march

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention group organized the walk to remember suicide victims and advocate for mental wellbeing. Photo by Shelby Berglund / Antelope Staff

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention held their fourth annual Out of Darkness Campus Walk at Cope Fountain. Approximately 205 people from different student and community organizations gathered on a Saturday morning to walk around campus. 

In the past students have had difficulties organizing the Out of Darkness Campus Walk, but the walk happened with few difficulties this time.

Shawn Peterson, a UNK junior, is a board member of the club here on campus. 

“Our first year we launched this event, COVID happened, so we had to cancel the event,” said Shawn Peterson, a UNK junior and mental health club board member. “Our second year, a huge storm hit, and everyone had to move inside to the (Cushing Coliseum) and walk laps on the track. And then finally, last year the turnout wasn’t very good, barely anyone showed up.” 

This year, a few tables were set up around the start area, including a booth with beads and necklaces. Participants could wear necklaces of various colors dedicated to siblings, cousins, friends or veterans who committed suicide. They could also choose necklackes that symbolized people who survived suicide attempts. 

Many participants wore multiple sets of beads around their necks. The jewelry was a stark reminder of how serious the suicide epidemic is.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention raised over $3,090 that will be donated toward mental health education and resources. Among the groups that showed support, Sigma Phi Epsilon won the prize for most attended. 

“This was very impactful as now I not only have the resources if I were to struggle, but I can distribute them to people that approach me with issues,” said Colton Roberts, a Sigma Phi Epsilon participant. “I also loved seeing all of the people from campus come together to support this cause. I think that speaks volumes about the quality of students we have here on campus and how we support one another.”

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has no further events planned at the moment on campus, but they plan to host an event similar to the Out of Darkness Walk in October. According to their website, there is an average of 130 suicides per day. 

“Reach out if you need help,” Peterson said. “Don’t feel like you are a burden to anyone. There’s people out there that want to help you. You don’t have to struggle alone.”

Those who are suffering from mental health crises or suicidal thoughts can reach out to the UNK Counseling Center or call the 988 Crisis Lifeline immediately. This also applies to people who know others who need help. 

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