UNI Out of the Darkness Walk for Suicide Prevention



The subject of suicide has seemed to be a taboo topic of discussion. However, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has created events such as the Suicide Prevention Walk to help have conversations about suicide and spread awareness.


UNI gave a positive start to April as it hosted its annual Out of the Darkness walk for suicide prevention on Saturday, April 1st. The walk is one of many across the country that helps fund research on suicide prevention,  suicide prevention programs, advocating for public policy, and supporting survivors of suicide loss. The walk also allows those who have been affected by suicide to connect with each, along with helping to reduce the stigma around suicide and mental health. 

Chelsea Eilers is a second year masters student in the School Counseling program here at UNI, and was one of the walk coordinators for the Out of the Darkness walk this year, alongside Jessie Harder, another second year master’s student in the mental health counseling program at UNI. Eilers and Harder are both members of Chi Sigma Iota, or CSI, a counseling honor society that has been in charge of putting on the Out of the Darkness walk at UNI in the past, yet this year, Out of the Darkness became its own student organization – and their first walk went great. “The walk was such a success! I’m not going to lie, on Thursday and Friday before the event I was watching the weather and I was so nervous that no one would show up because it was incredibly cold and windy. But we had a great turnout! I would say about 225 people were in attendance. I think it speaks to the dedication that our community has to suicide prevention and the impact that we want to see in suicide prevention,” said Eilers. Last year UNI’s Out of the Darkness walk raised $9,500 and this year they knocked their $10,000 goal out of the park by raising almost $16,000. The walk also helped to raise people’s spirits about a topic that typically causes much grief and heartbreak. “One of the phrases best used to describe Out of the Darkness is ‘you are not alone.’ This event showed me exactly that. So many people coming together for suicide prevention reminded me of that message. The whole event was great to be a part of but most importantly was the reason why we were all there. At the end of the walk, we all wrote on a blue flag why we walked then lined the remainder of the sidewalk with the flags. It was such a cool visual of our shared mission and individual stories coming together,” Samantha Phab said, who was a part of the walk at UNI.  

The start of Iowa has three more walks planned, the first at Iowa State University in Ames on April 29. The second is at Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs on April 30, and the fourth is at Norwalk Easter Public library park in Norwalk on May 13. People who wish to walk can register beforehand at supporting.afsp.org or before the walk at its registration tent.