By Taylor Parasconda
After the high success from last year’s event, KU hosted their second annual Out of Darkness Walk on April 17. The event, held on the DMZ, helped raise awareness and money for suicide prevention.
The money that was raised will be devoted to new research and to support survivors of suicide. Along with the walk, the university is also making other efforts to prevent suicide after the recent death of one of their students.
One participating team was at the event in honor of KU senior Calvin Heyward. Heyward died on March 9, 2016. According to some students, Heyward’s death was a shock to many of the KU community. The team was created on his behalf and was third on the list of top fundraisers on the KU events page.
Senior Marissa Wisman said, “I did not know Calvin personally, but it is always a sad day when someone passes away close to home, especially due to mental illness.
“We walk to get the news about suicide and mental illness out to the public. There is a stigma associated with these topics, especially suicide,” said event organizer, Kathy Loomis. “We want people to know that suicidal thoughts are not normal thoughts, and they should get help if [they are] feeling depressed or having suicidal thoughts,” said Loomis. KU junior Sarah Shiley said, “I am really excited about the walk this year. Last year, I attended, and had a great time participating in an event held for a good cause. Suicide is a very serious issue, so I am glad that our school is holding this walk to raise awareness and fight against it.” “Suicide is the second leading cause of death in college age students, and for this reason, we want the campus to know that suicide is not the answer,” said Loomis. “We will also have speakers who will share their story about how suicide and mental illness has affected their lives.”
KU continues to offer counseling and psychological services to students with depression, stress, anxiety and other personal problems that may affect their wellbeing while at school. The health center also wants all people to know where they can go to for help, according to Loomis.
According to the CPS webpage, psychological services are available to matriculated KU students, are provided at no additional cost and all services are confidential. The page also provides other available services.
“My goal is to stop all suicide. But if we only stop one person from dying by suicide, it is all worth it,” said Loomis.
For those that find themselves in a crisis, they are urged to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or SAM crisis at (877) 236-4600.