Photo courtesy of Butler University.
CHRIS BROWN | STAFF REPORTER | email@example.com
On average, one person takes their own life every nine hours in the state of Indiana.
That statistic from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is why the Butler chapter will be holding its annual Out of the Darkness Walk on campus March 26 at 1 p.m. by the Atherton Bulldog. AFSP is a national non-profit organization dedicated to suicide prevention and providing support to those affected by suicide.
The purpose of the walk is to raise funds to support suicide prevention research and to raise awareness and reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues.
Senior Charis Webb is the vice president of the AFSP’s Butler chapter.
“Suicide is really difficult to talk about,” Webb said. “It’s something that is really heavily stigmatized and easily pushed aside because people are uncomfortable about it.
“[The name] Out of the Darkness is just bringing that stigma out of the darkness into the light, helping those who have lost someone to suicide, supporting those who are struggling with mental health and just bringing these issues to light and really standing by those people.”
Webb got involved with the Butler chapter because of a personal connection — she lost her father to suicide.
She said she was looking for resources available to support her during what she described as a very difficult and isolating time. Then she found AFSP.
“I went to the first walk after my dad had passed away,” Webb said. “From there I was welcomed with open arms by a great group of people that were so understanding and warriors for mental health advocacy. The more I became involved, the more I just absolutely loved it and learned that it’s not something [just] I was struggling with — that a lot of other people are too. So if you can just help even one person, it’s totally worth it.”
The walk is expected to last until about 3 p.m. Check-in begins at noon and lasts until the walk begins at 1 p.m.
Online registration for the event closes at noon on Friday but anyone else interested in attending can register in person during the hour before the walk.
The goal of the event is to raise $15,000 for the AFSP. Event donations will be accepted until June 30.
Senior Mary Cerajewski, Butler’s AFSP president, originally got involved because she has friends and family who have suffered from mental illness.
“That’s what really sparked my awareness and interest in the topic,” she said.
Senior pharmacy major Collin Anderson, who had previously been involved with the university chapter on a small scale, recently got more involved with the walk after dealing with some depression and anxiety himself.
“I thought this was a great way for me to show my support for others that might be going through it and just kind of try and end of stigma surrounding mental health on our campus and beyond,” Anderson said.
Although the Out of the Darkness Walk is the Butler chapter’s biggest event, the organization also conducts several other functions throughout the year. These include events and activities during Stress Less Week for finals, Mental Health Awareness Week and Survivors of Suicide Day, which is dedicated to people who have lost someone to suicide.
But as for the walk, as Cerajewski said, it’s about starting a healthy conversion about a topic that’s often difficult to discuss.
“[It’s] about people joining together to fight that stigma and really show it’s nothing to be embarrassed of, and there are a lot of people that want to support the cause,” she said. “It is a very laid-back environment where you can really get as much out of it as you want to. Even if you don’t want to be involved in the club, it’s a great way to support those that are and those struggling with mental illnesses.”