The Oxford chapter of American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) will host their second “Out of the Darkness” walk for suicide prevention on the Ole Miss campus this Sunday.
With just under 650 registered participants, the AFSP has doubled their fundraising effort from last year with over $20,000 raised. The funds will be used to invest in new research, create educational programs, advocate for public policy, and support survivors of suicide loss.
Ole Miss student and Chairman of the walk, Maddy Gumbko noted that the walk is a step toward eliminating the stigma of suicide on college campuses.
“There is a significant number of college students who do lose their lives to suicide every year. We need to bring awareness to this issue,” Gumbko said. “We need to keep the conversation going because sometimes it’s the elephant in the room that people may not want to talk about, but we attempt to reduce that stigma. At the end of the day, we are here to support each other whether you’ve been engaged in your own fight against suicide, you’ve lost someone to it or if you’re here to support family and friends.”
Participants can create or a join a team, or walk as an induvial. A memory wall will be set up at the event, so walkers can bring photos of their lost loved ones if they would like. There will also be a balloon release, a speaker, and a blessing before the walk begins to remember those who have been lost to suicide.
Pam Smith is an Ole Miss employee and a board member of the AFSP. Smith joined the organization after she lost her son to suicide, and she has now dedicated herself to helping others. Smith has become a safe talk speaker and teacher at Ole Miss, so she is able to speak with struggling students.
“The more I started talking, the more I realized that instead of suffering and staying in the house, I’d rather get up and do something,” Smith said. “If I can help them save a life a day, then I’ll be reaching my goal. I do this, and I look up to heaven at my son and say ‘thank you for the second job.’ What people don’t realize is that while I’m helping others, I’m also helping myself with his loss.”
Check-in and registration begins in the Circle on the Ole Miss campus at 1:00 on Sunday, October 15. For more information about registration, you can visit the organization’s event page – Out of the Darkness Walk.