Students and community members gathered around Campus Lake Saturday to honor lost loved ones and raise money for suicide prevention.
Almost 200 participants showed up to the Out of the Darkness 2.2-mile walk around Campus Lake, including representatives from several suicide prevention programs.
Cailah Brock, coordinator of the walk and a junior from Benton studying plant and soil science, said she decided to plan the event after she attended one last fall in her hometown.
“My father committed suicide in 2008. Going to that walk last year really helped me through it and my situation, and inspired me to do something like that here for the people of Carbondale,” Brock said.
Out of the Darkness walks are administrated by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the leading national non-profit suicide prevention organization.
Since the beginning stages of the event, Brock said she worked closely with LifeSavers, a Carbondale-based suicide and prevention program.
LifeSavers was established in 1985 after executive director Judy Ashby’s 18-year-old son committed suicide.
“It is the utmost important thing for people in a crisis-like situation to know that there is someone there to talk to, someone who cares enough to listen, and that’s what LifeSavers does,” Ashby said. “We train people how to handle and support others with a severely depressed
or suicidal mindset.”
LifeSavers now has chapters all over the southern Illinois region. With 18 participating high schools and two college chapters, the nonprofit organization educates and trains people to notice signs of depression and suicidal thoughts among their peers, she said.
Ashby, a trained counselor and training coordinator, said some of the main warning signs of suicide are pessimism, hopelessness, desperation, anxiety, sleeping problems, increased alcohol and drug use, impulsiveness and unexpected anger.
“If you think someone you know is considering suicide, it’s okay to approach them about it. You saying the word ‘suicide’ isn’t going to put the idea in their head, because it is already there,” Ashby said.
Blake Morrison, president of SIUC’s chapter of LifeSavers and a sophomore from Carbondale studying business management, said he thinks the walk was a great success.
“College is a place where people often become confused and emotional, especially with so many changes in their life occurring at once. That is why it is so vital for peers to be able to recognize the signs and know how to prevent suicidal situations,” he said. “Suicide claims more than 36,000 lives every year. Every single one of those deaths could be prevented.”
Sharee Dawn Roberts, co-director of Zack’s Hope, a Kentucky-based suicide prevention group, was the opening speaker for the event.
Roberts said it was an honor to speak with others who’ve experienced similar loss.
“I think what Cailah has done here is great. There are people here from all over who have gone through the same traumatic situations joining each other to fight the same cause,” she said.
The walk raised more than $6,000 for AFSP.