Walking for hope: Students spread suicide awareness

Liberty University will be hosting its first ever Out of the Darkness campus walk for suicide prevention in collaboration with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

The event will begin at 10:30 a.m. on April 20. 

The Out of the Darkness campus walks are a student fundraising series meant to get students involved in the fight for suicide prevention.

Liberty University’s Out of the Darkness walk is currently trying to raise at least $5,000.

The upcoming walk was initiated by student Kristin Lay, whose life has been greatly affected by suicide and mental health.

Lay reached out to Natalie Peyton, the senior associate director of health and wellness at Liberty’s Student Health and Wellness Initiatives Department, to help her organize the logistics. 

“When I reached out to Natalie and the Health and Wellness department, I really thought doing this walk was going to be a long shot. One thought that went through my head was, ‘How can one voice out of 15,000 students really make a difference for this?’ But apparently, I was wrong,” Lay said.

After being inspired by Lay’s desire for Liberty to host the walk, Peyton contacted Emily Bacalis from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to collaborate on the organization of the event.

Graphic provided

The collaborative efforts of these two women have amounted to the organization of this walk for suicide prevention.

The third leading cause of death among people ages 15-24 is suicide, making it a cause close to many students’ hearts. One of the first ways to get involved is by participating in the Out of the Darkness walk.

The overall aim of the walk is to both bring awareness on the reality of suicide and support students who are struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts. 

The mission of the Out of the Darkness walk series is to “talk away” the dark.

The walks help to connect those who have lost a loved one to suicide and educate others on how to support those who have lost someone to suicide.

There are many ways students can get involved in the Out of the Darkness walk at Liberty. The event would not be possible without its volunteers and sponsors.

Registration for the event is both online at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s website and in-person starting at 9:45 a.m. It is free to participate in the walk, but assistance in fundraising efforts is encouraged. To donate, visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s website.

Lunney is a news reporter for the Liberty Champion

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