On Saturday, March 30, 2019, The University of Olivet will host its second annual Out of the Darkness Walk. The Out of the Darkness Walk, sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), raises awareness of suicide and mental health issues.
Jeremy Duby, director of bands, John Moore, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology, and junior Abby Smith worked together last year to coordinate the event. They are teaming up again this year to host the walk. This year’s event will continue to expand conversation about mental health and suicide prevention.
“The Out of the Darkness Walk is important because of the messages it sends,” Professor Moore said. “It demonstrates that we recognize that suicidality is something that many people struggle with, that we care about this and that there is hope. The overall message is a positive one, and we want to show that even when things are particularly dark and painful, it is possible to get through them.”
For Abby, the cause personally hits home.
“This event means so much to me, not just because of what it stands for but because of the people we’ve been able to help and develop relationships with along the way,” she said. “I lost a close family friend to suicide in 2010 and a friend from high school to suicide during the summer of 2017. Mr. Duby was there the day I received the news of my friend’s passing and was the first person I came to about the idea of hosting an event on campus to raise awareness of suicide prevention and mental health.”
Professor Duby suggested hosting a campus walk, and the two partnered with Professor Moore to coordinate with the AFSP to put the event together.
“These two professors have gone above and beyond to help with this walk as well as helping the students here both in and out of the classroom, myself included,” Abby said. “They honestly don’t get enough credit for everything they’ve done, and it’s really because of them this walk has been such a big success since its inception.”
Abby believes the event will inspire change both at the College and in the Olivet community.
“Not only are we raising awareness of mental health and suicide prevention, we are also raising funds to be able to bring mental health resources to our campus, which we’ve already started doing with the funds raised from last year’s walk,” Abby said. “We’re not just hosting an event and forgetting about it. We’re initiating real change on campus, and we need support from the OC community to help us create that change.
“This event is important because it’s allowing us, as a college and as a community, to expand the conversation on mental health and suicide prevention. This is a positive way of shedding light on a sensitive subject and letting students know that they’re not alone and have a support system here at The University of Olivet.”
The Out of the Darkness Walk is free and open to the public; donations are welcome. Registration and check-in will begin at 8:30 a.m. in the The University of Olivet Square and the walk will begin at 10 a.m. with an opening ceremony. The event will end at noon. The walk route takes participants through campus and the town of Olivet, a total of three miles with an optional halfway stopping point.
To register or donate, visit www.afsp.org/olivetcollege. Participants can also register on the day of the walk. For more information about the event, contact Rachael Cieslik at 269.749.7619 or email@example.com. Learn more about The University of Olivet by contacting the Office of Admissions at 800.456.7189 or firstname.lastname@example.org.