Photo by KC Longley

May 6, 2019

CSU hosts ‘Out of Darkness Walk’ in support of suicide prevention

At least 40 students and families came together April 27 to participate in the Out of the Darkness Campus Walk in support of suicide prevention.

This is the first year Cleveland State has participated in the walk, put on by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). The Suicide Prevention Student Leaders and Helping Your Peers through Education (H.Y.P.E.) Team also sponsored the event.

The walk began and ended at the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs after Miss Ohio of 2018 Matti-Lynn Chrisman spoke about her own experiences with mental illness.

Courtney Dunn, the vice president of H.Y.P.E. Team, coordinated the campus walk. This is the first time Cleveland State has participated in the event, the team now plans for it to occur annually.

“I attended the Cleveland [city] Out of the Darkness walk several years ago,” Dunn said. “I have wanted to bring a walk to campus since then because it was such a powerful experience for me.”

AFSP is the largest private funder dedicated to suicide prevention research. It has hosted campus walks all across the country and has more than 75 local chapters nationwide.

According to Dunn, the main goal of the Cleveland State campus walk was to support the work done by AFSP, including things like education, advocacy and support for survivors of suicide loss.

“Campus walks are also focused on engaging students and creating a culture that supports positive mental health,” Dunn said. “Our specific goals at CSU include reducing stigma and encouraging help-seeking among students. Specifically, we want to reduce the stigma about suicide and mental health on campus to create an openness to discuss these topics.”

The Suicide Prevention Student Leaders Team and H.Y.P.E. Team also want to encourage students to reach out for help whenever needed, including the act of reaching out on behalf of others.

Dunn emphasized that no matter who has gone through depression or suicidal thoughts, it is possible to find help. As of the day of the walk, participants raised $1,840 in support of suicide prevention. The donations go toward events, program services and administrative tasks that AFSP holds and sponsors.

Dunn added that suicide is preventable and that she hopes this walk helps enforce this into the minds of Cleveland State students and family members.

“We want to create a supportive environment for suicide loss survivors,” Dunn said. “[We want] people who have known someone who died by suicide to acknowledge a loss that is often stigmatized and honor their loved ones.”


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