Out of the Darkness Walk brings suicide awareness to light

Sisters Making a Change hosted the second “Out of the Darkness” Walk on Sunday April 27. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention sponsored the walk to fight against the darkness and silence surrounding suicide. The walk attracted a total of 91 total participants. “We started in the morning with the route … and spread signs around campus to map out the two-mile loop for the walk,” SMAC co-service chair sophomore Jane Skinner said. “Tim Hortons donated food, [Campus Auxiliary Services] donated water … There were peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and I brought bananas, so there was plenty of food, which we appreciated.”

“We did really well, and ended up almost reaching our goal [at the walk],” Skinner said. “We want to keep fundraising until we reach it too, so were currently reaching out to other people for donations.”

Skinner explained that SMAC also worked closely with the local chair of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Sarah Clark Baughman, who aided them through the process and help facilitate the walk from AFSP’s end.

“We’ve worked with Sarah for both years, which has been great,” Skinner said. “And [AFSP] gave us a bunch of guidelines: packets of information on how to run the event, how to fundraise, templates for flyers, t-shirts, a banner … they’re very helpful.”

According to Skinner, the only downside to having the walk sponsored by AFSP is that there is no registration fee, which cuts into the walk’s fundraising.

“We had a lot of people come who didn’t donate because there was no fee, which is actually okay, because the main goal is to raise awareness,” Skinner said. “We did have a lot of organizations involved too, and Pathways came and supported us.”

Despite the lack of registration fee, Skinner said that they were only about $50 away from reaching their $2,000 fundraising goal.

Stoerger explained that the funds from this event help fight suicide and its effects through educational programs, scientific research and resources for survivors, people at risk and people who have lost someone to suicide.

“It’s a very real issue, especially on college campuses,” Stoerger said. “Chances are, everyone knows at least one person who’s been affected by suicide, which is sad especially because it can be avoided.”

“Even if you don’t know someone whose been affected by suicide, you probably know someone affected by depression,” Skinner said. “If you do know someone who needs support, make sure they’re getting it, and don’t be afraid to talk about it – it’s not something to be ashamed of.”

“Pathways is a great resource if anyone ever needs help because those counselors are well-trained,” Skinner added. “And there’s always the suicide hotline.”

Both Skinner and Stoerger said that they look forward to holding the walk again and hope to expand their efforts of raising awareness and aiding in suicide prevention next year.

“We had almost double the involvement this year, and made almost 800 more dollars, which definitely shows that we got the word out there, and that’s a major improvement,” Skinner said.