Out of the Darkness Campus Walk to raise funds for suicide prevention

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American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

The WKU Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is hosting the Out of the Darkness Western Kentucky University Campus Walk on April 23 to collect funds for suicide prevention.

Madison Carter, News Reporter

The WKU Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is hosting the Out of the Darkness Western Kentucky University Campus Walk on April 23 to raise awareness for mental health and collect funds for suicide prevention.

Students that want to participate in the fundraiser can register online on the AFSP website. Students can register for the event until noon the Friday prior to the walk or register in person before the walk begins, according to the site. 

According to the site, the fundraiser has already raised $1,135 of its $5,000 goal.

“When you walk in the Out of the Darkness Walks, you join the effort with hundreds of thousands of people to raise awareness and funds that allow AFSP to invest in new research, create educational programs, advocate for public policy, and support survivors of suicide loss,” the site states.

Gabriel Heckerman, a sophomore majoring in biology and Spanish, founded the WKU AFSP chapter.

“It was just a cause that I was really passionate about, so I decided to start it up on our campus,” Heckerman said. “Very recently I had someone close to me and people that I love effected by suicide, so that was my direct motive.” 

The AFSP website is used to collect donations as well as to showcase incentives for donating such as an Out of the Darkness Campus Walk T-shirt for those that raise $100. Heckerman has also personally designed a shirt that can be purchased by participants, with the profits going to the organization.

According to Heckerman, the WKU American Medical Student Association, the BreatheWell Group, Phi Sigma Pi Beta Phi Chapter, Peer Mentors and the Honors Social Planning Board have all decided to participate. Heckerman is still recruiting participants for the fundraiser. 

“I really hope that this picks up on campus and that it makes an impact,” Heckerman said. “I am really trying to establish this as an ongoing thing.”

Kayla Distler, a member of the Beta Phi Chapter, heard of the fundraiser through instagram and introduced the idea to her fraternity. 

Distler said that she was interested in this fundraiser due to her own experiences dealing with depression as well as the people in her life that have suffered in the same way.

“I know people who have lost loved ones to suicide, and it just breaks my heart,” Distler said. “The walk is going to be fun, and I think it is a good cause overall.”

News Reporter Madison Carter can be reached at [email protected] topper.wku.edu.