PHOTO BY LEXI KUBIN/THE CANDIDATE
Juniors Tami Adeagbo and Kayla Nguyen volunteer at the clothing booth at the "Out of Darkness" suicide prevention walk in September at Riverside Park. "If more people were to get involved, it (the cause) would be understood better," Nguyen said.
In an active display of support for each other, along with friends and family, 924 participants attended the “Out of the Darkness” suicide prevention walk Sept. 21 at Riverside Park, an event meant to bring awareness and raise money for an important movement.
An array of multi-colored beads were worn in honor of the many people who have lost their lives to suicide, or attempted to.
Barbara Mares is the area director for the greater Kansas chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
The back of her business card reads: “Mission: To save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide.”
Through organizing this event, she wanted to show her support and raise awareness to a serious cause that has afflicted so many, including herself.
“I lost two sons, Jason and Justin, so I have volunteered since 2008," she said. "Since then I have founded the chapter and put on many walks like this. I knew in my heart that I needed to do more.”
There were many booths and organizations present, including GLSEN, WSU, Moms Demand Action, and The Kansas Suicide Coalition.
This booth(The Kansas Suicide Coalition) consisted of a wall where notes were placed, each marked with the words that the writer would want someone to know, whether that be a family member, friend, stranger, or a past self.
There was a camera behind the booth, where Michelle Edwards conducted a PSA project in which participants were filmed and recorded answering the prompt.
Along with Edwards, Hana Issa and Kaela Prall were running the booth.
Prall discussed the motive of their project and why they attended the event.
“The goal here today was to provide a space for people to share their thoughts and feelings," she said. "We want to promote messages of awareness with compassion; centering that human element that a lot of suicide prevention doesn’t take into account.”
Tiger Ambassadors and other students also took part in the day to make a difference.
“I really enjoyed helping and being a part of it,” junior Tami Adeagbo said. “It’s a touchy subject for me. I’ve had a close friend commit, and I know it’s hard for friends and family. It’s such a good cause to be involved in.”
“Not a lot of people talk about it, and (the walk) was a good opportunity to help others and spread awareness,” junior Kayla Nguyen said.
Counselor Cecelia Friedel was in charge of organizing the student volunteers and walkers.
“We want to make sure our students are cared for and loved, and have people who are here for them,” she said. “It is very important to me that if our kids ever go into that dark place, they know there is a way out.”
After speakers such as Devante Garcia and Chari Michael delivered heartfelt messages to the assembly of supporters, a long line formed and the walk began.
The gathering of many people who all had something in common caused hope and mutual understanding to flourish, making for a successful day.
“We shouldn’t be quiet. This is just the beginning,” Mares said.
The total raised for suicide prevention was $37,133, thanks to the walk.
VIDEO BY LEXI KUBIN/THE CANDIDATE