‘Out of the Darkness’ walk to spread awareness


In just the U.S. alone, every minute at least one person attempts suicide according to the official Out of the Darkness website.

Upsilon Nu Iota, an honor society for students and professionals in the counseling fielddrive to spread awareness off this statistic and provide support to those who have lost somebody to suicide or are suffering with mental health themselves.

Upsilon Nu Iota said with the Out of the Darkness Walk on April 16 they hope to do just that.

According to Andrea Vignovich, graduate student and board member of Upsilon Nu Iota, the only way suicide can be prevented is by talking about it. She said this semester in particular has been tough on UNI due to the recent loss of students to suicide.

“It is time that we come together as a campus community, not only as a student body, and work to show our support for one another,” said Vignovich.

Upsilon Nu Iota has hosted the Out of the Darkness Walk for three years now. It will be held from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m., with the walk itself beginning at 3 p.m.

Participants will meet at Gallagher Bluedorn and the walk will take place all around UNI’s campus. Students can either sign up in advance by April 15 or register before the walk starts from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. If students are unable to participate in the walk, they can also volunteer or donate money until June 30.

Counseling graduate student, Paige Hildebrant, is the Memorial and Prevention Committee Leader for Upsilon Nu Iota.

Activities for the event includes: on-site resources for anybody who needs service, a speaker from Active Minds who has personal experiences with mental health and suicide, different colored memorial beads that represent how a participant has been affected by suicide (e.g., personal struggle, loss of a sibling/child, etc.) and stickers that participants can wear displaying why they walk for suicide.

Hildebrant expressed how important she thinks it is to discuss suicide and attend events like this one that help advocate for mental health.

“The topic of suicide can be very difficult to discuss,” Hildebrant said. “The thing is, though, that avoiding the topic does not make it any less real or make it go away.”

Hildebrant is encouraging students who want to educate themselves about mental health to sign up for the Out of the Darkness Walk. According to her, it’s not just a walk for those who are affected by suicide but for anybody who wants to learn more about mental health as a whole.

All the funds raised at the event will filter back to the Iowa chapter of American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), which is an organization that provides assistance to loved ones of suicide victims as well as those with mental health concerns of their own. The AFSP seeks to reduce the overall rate of suicides, especially in young people.

With the help of UNI students, parents and community members, Upsilon Nu Iota has already exceeded their original fundraising goal for the event.

“We are proud to say that our mission to advocate for our profession, and mental health as a whole, has already led us to meet and surpass our goal of $7,000 raised for the event,” said Vignovich.

Freshman human resources major, Katie Donelan, has already signed up for the walk. She is excited to participate with her sisters from Gamma Phi Beta, who formed a team and plan to walk together at the event.

“Suicide and mental health are obvious issues on our campus, and this event will provide information and help to those who might need it most,” Donelan said. “I plan to walk not only for the students we’ve lost on campus this year, but for those who we lose to suicide each and every day across the globe.”