Out of Darkness Walk Raises Funds and Awareness for Suicide Prevention | Arts & Culture

On Saturday, students and local residents gathered to walk about two miles around the University of Georgia campus to raise awareness about suicide prevention.

Gabby Wood, a junior double major in psychology and social work, was the organizer of the event called Out of Darkness Campus Walk.

Wood, who is also president of UGA’s Pre-Counseling Club, worked with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to organize the walk. Funds are raised for the ASFP through the walk. So far over $18,000 has been raised.

During the walk, participants were offered free coffee from Coffee Camper Company and volunteers handed out drinks and snacks at the end.

During check-in, attendees were able to put on “honor beads” to wear. These were colored beads that correlated with people’s connections to the topic of suicide. The teal beads represented the acquaintance of someone who has struggled or is currently struggling with suicidal thoughts. The gold beads represented someone who lost a parent to suicide, while the orange beads were for someone who lost a sibling.

Wood and other event organizers wanted to make sure attendees felt welcomed and supported. She listed different categories of Pearls of Honor and asked people to lift them whenever they related to the category. She also asked everyone to take a moment of silence for those who have committed suicide and lost loved ones to it.

Participant Kayla Feinstein felt the walk was “a great way to raise awareness for such a great cause. Participant Bryce Kelly also enjoyed participating.

“My favorite thing about this event was the camaraderie my friends and I shared as we walked around campus together,” Kelly said.

The march was the first in two years to be held in person. Wood said the walk was also her first in person and she was very nervous but also excited to organize it.

To organize the event, Wood said she worked about three hours a day. Most of his time has been devoted to outreach to businesses, people on campus, and other organizations. It was a bit difficult for her, she said.

“Honestly, delegating tasks and finding ways to get exposure was a struggle. I have never seen this event in person, so I had to figure out the right way to do everything and how can I let others help me? »

But the work was worth it for Wood, as she believes mental health is an important issue to discuss.

“I try to break the stigma around mental health because almost everyone struggles with it. One of the reasons we don’t know if someone is struggling is that mental health is invisible,” Wood said.

Through the walk, Wood hoped everyone involved would understand the importance of suicide prevention.

“Suicide prevention is my first passion. During my freshman year of high school, I lost a friend to suicide, and it was the worst year of my life. It has been a process that really eases the pain of this event and finds a way to help others through it. And I’m really happy and grateful to have had the opportunity to walk, in honor of all the people who have lost their lives by suicide,” said Wood.