Cliff Grassmick / Colorado Daily
Cliff Grassmick / Colorado Daily
Donations for CU’s Out of the Darkness Campus Walk are still being collected at http://afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donordrive.event&eventID=2563.
Get help: The free U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 800-273-TALK (8255), will connect callers to local resources 24 hours a day.
When Amanda Fields saw others wearing purple beads on Sunday morning on the University of Colorado campus, she knew that they, like her, had lost a friend to suicide.
Fields, a Colorado State University student who drove down for the Out of the Darkness Campus Walk Sunday morning, said she lost two friends in a suicide pact last semester. Now, she considers herself a suicide-prevention advocate — and the community built around a gathering like the one at University of Colorado is important.
“This is a healing place for survivors,” she said. “It’s a great place to talk about it without stigma.”
Last year, Kelly Brown, now a CU alumna, started the walk with fellow student Kayla McFadden. It’s a national movement — the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention hosts Out of the Darkness Walks across the country to help raise money, awareness and community around the issue.
Last year, about 400 people participated in the walk. This year’s walk drew about 350.
“We are walking here today to help save lives,” McFadden said.
Brown said that one of their goals is to raise enough money to add campus programming to help identify those at risk and direct them to the appropriate resources, but money from the event goes into all facets of the issue, research, programming and awareness. Half of the money stays in the Colorado chapter, and half goes to the national organization.
“The idea is to literally bring the issue out of the darkness and to build community around it — and to try and show it’s actually strong to get help,” Brown said, adding that the leading cause of suicide is undiagnosed depression.
A group of student veterans from both CU and CSU walked together Sunday morning to honor a friend with whom they served with in Iraq and Afghanistan who died of suicide in December.
“We’re just trying to promote suicide awareness for vets,” said CU student veteran Adam Krentz.
When his friend died, he was struggling with PTSD. He had been given a service dog for emotional support, a treatment for PTSD that’s becoming more common. The dog died of a heart attack three weeks before the suicide.
The dog’s death was “the straw that broke the camel’s back,” said friend and CU student Dustin Jones.
“It’s the people you least expect,” Jones said. “Our buddy was the happiest guy you’ve ever met.”
The group raised $1,200 for the walk.
A middle school club soccer team from Westminster walked Out of the Darkness that morning in uniform. All wore purple and orange beads, signifying that they’d lost a friend and a sister.
“We were supposed to see her the next day,” said teammate Kara Dobbs. “Practice was cancelled.”
Every girl on the team said that they knew someone else who had tried to kill themselves.
In 2010 someone died by suicide every 13.7 minutes, according to the Centers for Disease Control. It is the 10th leading cause of death for Americans, and the third leading cause of death for college students. In the U.S., the numbers of deaths by suicide increased by nearly 11 percent between 2007 and 2010.
Founder Kelly Brown said the she was inspired to start the campus walk because of experiences with depression personally and in her family. “My mom, because of her experiences, always told me that tomorrow will be better. But not everyone has that mindset. I just want to let those struggling know that tomorrow will be better.”
Contact Jake Kincaid at firstname.lastname@example.org.