First annual campus walk to raise awareness and money for suicide prevention

By Rana Schenke, Staff Writer

The university is holding its first Out of the Darkness Campus Walk on April 14, to raise awareness and donations for suicide prevention. 

Participants can register online at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s website through noon on Friday, April 13, or at the walk starting at 4:30 p.m.

Suicide is one of the top three leading causes of death in adolescents ages 15-19, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.


According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s website, almost twice as many people in Illinois die of suicide than by homicide.

Illinois’ suicide rate is at 10.28 percent, and the national rate is at 13.26 percent. These rates are per 100,000 population.

“The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has a goal to reduce the annual rate of suicide by 20% by the year 2025,” said Angela Peterman, the walk’s chairperson. “I think that’s a great goal.”

The walk is organized by Salukis On Your Side, the university’s suicide prevention program and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, according to a university press release.

Participants are not required to pay a registration fee but are encouraged to help raise funds and/or donate.

“Most of the money [donated] stays right here in southern Illinois to provide educational resources for suicide prevention,” Peterman said.

The top fundraising team by April 14 will lead the walk and carry the walk banner. The top individual fundraiser will cut the walk ribbon, according to the walk’s informational page.


Participants who raise $100 by April 14 will receive an official Out of the Darkness Campus Walk t-shirt.

Donations can be made on the registration website or at the registration booth before the walk.

A resource fair featuring information tables hosted by local businesses and nonprofits will open at 4:30 p.m., according to the walk’s informational page.

Additional activities at the walk include customizable walk bibs, a raffle, and a candlelight vigil.

“We will also be having a memory tree, where people can fill out leaves with names of people they may have lost, and in return, they will get a package of seeds to plant in memory of that person,” Peterman said.

Mental health professionals will also be on the walk for anyone wanting to speak with them.

The walk itself starts at 5 p.m. and is about two miles long.

It starts at the Student Center, goes to the Carbondale Civic Center on 200 South Illinois Ave. and then returns to the Student Center.

As for those who should participate in the walk, Peterman says the walk is for everyone.

“It’s for people in support of suicide awareness and prevention, it’s for people who have lost friends, loved ones, anybody. It’s for the campus, but it’s for the community as well,” Peterman said.

People can participate as individual walkers, team captains or team walkers, virtual walkers and volunteers.

At the walk, participants will be able to select honor beads, which show their personal connection to the cause.

White beads are for loss of a child, red for a spouse or partner, gold for a parent, orange for a sibling, purple for a relative or friend, silver for a first responder or military, green if the wearer has struggled personally, blue if supporting the cause, and teal for friends and family of someone who struggles, according to the event’s webpage.

Leashed dogs are welcome and encouraged; for a $10 donation at the Foundation’s booth, participants can get an official AFSP Pooch bandana.

Staff writer Rana Schenke can be reached at 

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