Out of the Darkness event promotes suicide awareness, remembrance
Members of the University of Houston community gathered at the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center on Sunday morning for a day of remembrance, healing and suicide awareness.
The Out of the Darkness campus walk and fundraiser, hosted annually by the UH Wellness Center, provides an opportunity for participants to remember people who have died by suicide. This year’s event was hosted in collaboration with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and was attended by more than 200 registered walkers.
“Seeing all the people who are victims to it, it’s kind of alarming,” said Jasmyn Howard, a volunteer for the event. “Suicide is so overlooked because people just think they are depressed, but there’s actually something more going on.”
Beginning at 10 a.m., participants and volunteers joined together to memorialize lives claimed by suicide and to speak up on behalf of those struggling. Boots, sandals and sneakers representing over 150 lives claimed by suicide were laid out on the floor, each with the name and picture of a victim.
A pair of small black sandals added by volunteer Judi Swenson stood out among the crowd of shoes. Instead of displaying a tag with the name of a victim, the sandals displayed a ‘survivor’ tag. Swenson added the sandals to honor one of her students.
“That’s why I do it. We never know if we save life, we only know when we lose one,” Swenson said. “We don’t hear the successes, we don’t hear about the person who put the gun down.”
UH’s Counseling and Psychological Services talked about resources available to students, and several other organizations from UH and the community provided various resources and information regarding suicide awareness and prevention.
“At least every year or semester, I will receive an email from a student who has disappeared saying they are over-weighed,” said Chatwara Duran, a professor in the English department. “I try to tell my students to tell me, let me know. Just talk to somebody.”
All the money raised by participants is going directly to ASFP, who creates educational programs and advocates for mental health public policies. Patrick Lukingbeal, director of UH Wellness, announced that more than $13,000 had been raised by individual and team participants at the event.
Because of severe weather, the walk portion of the event was cancelled. Those interested in the cause are encouraged to participate in other community events hosted by ASFP or donate online.