By Jillian Baker
The Out of the Darkness KU campus walk took place on April 30, on the DMZ. Registration for the event started at 3:30 p.m. with the walk beginning at 5 p.m. until 7 p.m.
The event began with an opening ceremony with the singing of the national anthem by Megan Laudenslager, a member of the Kutztones.
President Kenneth Hawkinson was the first speaker for the event. “Suicide is like a thief in the night,” he said.
“You know, thieves, they prosper, they succeed by running around in the night and attacking the most vulnerable amongst us. We must work together to fight against those thieves just as we guard each other’s homes and keep them safe. We must all be beacons in the night,” he said.
“So all of us must stand together and be beacons of light for each other and take care of each other,” he said.
The next speaker was KU graduate student, Nancilee Romano, who spoke about her struggle with suicidal thoughts.
“I can’t remember exactly what age, around 16 or 17, but I do remember it didn’t happen over night, it was a gradual process.”
“Now I hang on to my reasons to live, such as my amazing friends, my dreams to build a family one day and my passion for my future career,” she said.
“I am extremely passionate and determined to be the person I never had when I was at my worst.”
Ending her speech she said, “Being suicidal does not look the same for everyone.”
Before the walk began, Keith Kurk a KU senior, announced the bead ceremony.
“Today we have two symbols. First, the luminary, the lights are to show that even through the darkest time in life, the light will never truly extinguish, there will always be a ray of hope.
“The second is the honor beads. They come in many colors. Each in tribute to a loved one, a personal struggle or a victory, representing the diversity of our community to this cause.”
Participants were called up to place a bead over the picture of the person they were representing.
The red beads represented the loss of a spouse or partner. The gold beads represent the loss of a parent. The white beads are for the loss of a child. The orange beads represent the loss of a sibling. Purple beads represented the loss of a friend. The silver beads are for the loss of first responders. The green beads represented personal struggle.
According to the AFSP, they have been able to set a goal to reduce the annual suicide rate 20 percent by the year 2025.
Their website says, “The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy, and to reach out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide.”