Coastal Carolina University held the fifth annual Out of Darkness Walk, which is for suicide awareness and to show support to those struggling with emotional health, on March 23 in Spadoni Park on CCU's campus.
This walk was sponsored by the LiveWell Office, Students Helping Others Reach Excellence Peer Educators, and CCU Counseling Services.
Assistant Director of Wellness Outreach Chris Donevant-Haines first tried to get this event started in 2008, but with so many other events going on around campus, it wasn’t approved until she tried again five years ago along with two students, Ashlyn Barton and Kelsie Miller.
“I think my personal favorite part [of the event] is when people are showing up and they’re at the registration area because before the walk every year, this is our fifth year, I think I always have a little bit of anxiety and nervousness wondering, ‘will people show up?’” she said.
“You know, we see how many people have registered in advance but I guess I always have a little bit of fear and when I start to see a crowd gathering, I get extremely happy to see that it represents that people do care about this topic, even as difficult as this topic is to talk about and it shows that people who you might not have thought cared, do care.”
In a video taken at the very first Out of Darkness Walk at CCU, Miller gives her comment on the event.
“We’re raising awareness for suicide and depression and really just want to let the community know and the campus know that we are a safe campus and that it’s time that we need to start talking about suicide and bring it out of the darkness and into the light and let students know that there is help on this campus,” she said.
Over the past five years, the walk has raised more than $47,013.93 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Funds are raised through a combination of online registration for the walk, donations, and shirt sales. This year alone the walk raised over $11,200.
This event raises awareness for suicide prevention and mental health which is extremely important when it impacts so many of us in one way or another.
It’s been over a year since the Parkland shooting and two of the survivors committed suicide within just a week of each other. Sydney Aiello, a survivor that took her own life, had been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, according to the Miami Herald. The other survivor’s name has yet to be released. He was a sophomore, but police are hesitant to say for certain if his death can be linked to the shooting at Stoneman Douglas last year.
Awareness for suicide prevention and mental health are extremely important because it can, and does, save lives. Perhaps if those two students had had more available resources two lives could have been saved.
If you or someone you know needs help, use the counseling services available here on campus. If you are in need of a counselor, you can call 843-349-2305 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. After hours call the Department of Public Safety at 843-349-2177 and ask for the “Counselor on Call.”