The American Foundation of Suicide Prevention held the “Out of Darkness Walk” at Eastern Michigan University to raise awareness and support for those affected by suicide.
The 3-mile walk around campus started at 10:30 a.m. on April 9 at the Lake House near EMU’s Student Center. Upon arrival, there were necklaces given out to represent loved ones who have been lost to wear during the walk, as well as bubbles to blow along the lakeside.
According to University of Michigan’s CAPS website, suicide is the #2 leading cause of death for college students, with approximately 1,100 suicides on campuses each year.
“It’s such a prevalent thing especially after the pandemic, a lot of isolation, a lot of mental health concerns,” Alexandria Eibler, the chair of the event, said.
AFSP’s Director of the Michigan Chapter Anne Perry worked with Eibler to promote mental health awareness around EMU’s campus this year. After Eibler volunteered in the fall for a community walk in Dexter, she decided to put together a campus walk for the spring. With the help of the AFSP, Eibler was able to successfully create and host the event.
Eibler felt the urgency to provide clarity for those that need it and to reassure people that there is support accessible to anyone. She believes that this is a vital time needed to come together and support each other.
“It’s really important to raise awareness to help people understand that there are others out there that can support them and what kind of support is out there,” Eibler said.
Many volunteers helped AFSP for the walk to set up tables, greet and register guests, and pass out water and snacks following the event.
Kaylen Fales, a first-year graduate student at EMU, attended the walk on Saturday morning as a supporter. She explains the importance of checking in on friends and family.
“I think bringing mental health awareness is important everywhere,” Fales said. “Important to check on how people are feeling, how you’re feeling, and just to bring awareness to the fact that we’re not always feeling our best.”
The AFSP is dedicated to providing support and hope for those that have been affected by suicide. After being founded in 1987 by a group of volunteers, AFSP has grown to be a world known organization with local chapters in all 50 states.
Common warning signs of a potential mental health crisis include depression, anxiety, deteriorating academic performance, withdrawal from friends and family, and lack of eating. For emergency mental health assistance, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text the Crisis Text Line at TALK to 741741.
For more information on suicide prevention and mental health awareness, visit afsp.org.