USM hosts 6th annual ‘Out of Darkness’ Suicide Prevention Walk

'Out of Darkness Walk' tied to Suicide Prevention Awareness
Published: Mar. 4, 2023 at 10:04 PM CST
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PINE BELT, Miss. (WDAM) - The University of Southern Mississippi is helping spread suicide awareness.

On Saturday,, the university hosted the 6th annual ‘Out of the Darkness’ Suicide Awareness Walk.

The event was sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, which seeks to educate and redefine the mental health stigma in the United States.

“We have really great volunteers and I think that you can kind of see the impact just by being here and the number of people that are showing up,” AFSP Special Events Manager Carley Dolezal said. “The walk is obviously a fundraising event. But I think one of the most important things about the walk is just for everyone to come together and be a support system for each other.”

AFSP reports that, on average, there are 130 suicides per day in the U.S.

By hosting events like Saturday’s, AFSP tries to spread awareness and make people aware of the resources in their communities.

Participants of the walk included community members, college students and even furry friends.

Those participating could be seen wearing beads, each color representing their tie to the event. White was for the loss of a child, green for a personal struggle or blue for supporting the cause.

Laurel native Kristi Bush says the cause is near to her heart.

“I am a part of this because I lost my 22-year-old son in April,” she said. “It was a long fight with him. I just wish that we could break the stigma of mental health and of suicide and people weren’t scared to go get the help that they need to do it to get well and to be able to live their everyday life.”

Bush wants others to know they’re not alone---participating not only for herself but for others.

“You are enough, your story does not have to end,” she said. “God’s got your story.”

If you or anyone else needs help, you can call the national crisis prevention hotline at 9-8-8.

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