UNI students plan Out of the Darkness Walk

When someone dies by suicide, the experience often has a lasting effect on the people close to the deceased, as well as their community. This was true when a high school classmate of Rachel Foote, senior textiles and apparel major and president of UNI's Phi Upsilon Omicron chapter, died by suicide after graduating from Indianola High School. "It really rocked our community," said Foote.

Out of the Darkness Walk
Out of the Darkness Walks across the country raise awareness about suicide and suicide prevention while raising money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Even more shocking, however, was the apparent lack of warning signs. "He was a great student, a popular kid and everyone liked him," said Foote. "No one ever thought that would happen to him."

While this tragedy was difficult for the community to deal with, it helped shine a light on an important issue that isn't often talked about.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). Unfortunately, because warning signs can be easy to miss and many consider the topic taboo, preventing suicide can be a challenge.

That's why the UNI chapter of Phi Upsilon Omicron is hosting an inaugural Out of the Darkness Walk from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, April 5, at UNI. The event will raise awareness about suicide and suicide prevention while raising money for the AFSP.

According to vice president of UNI's Phi U chapter Paige Hoffman, "Not only is this event going to raise awareness of the impact of suicide, but this event is a great way to make UNI more of a community."

The walk is free and you can register at the event or online. Participants are encouraged to raise money, and those who raise $100 or more will receive a free T-shirt. While event organizers hope to raise between $2,000 and $5,000, the event isn't really about money.

"It's a good cause, especially when it hits home," said Hoffmann. "Suicide might be hard to talk about, because it is a difficult subject, but when people do talk about it, it will make them feel better and it will also help other people realize that this is real."

For more information about UNI's Out of the Darkness Walk or to register, contact Hoffmann at 563-451-6041 or hoffmpaa@uni.edu, or visit afsp.donordrive.com/event/uni.