AFSP hosts Out of the Darkness walk, raises $7,000

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Members of the UCA community gathered together Saturday morning on April 2 for the “Out of the Darkness” campus walk.

darkness sign

Participants pass by a sign at the walk. Photo by Darian Whitmore

The “Out of the Darkness” fundraiser is an event led by the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention (AFSP). The walk raises money to go toward suicide prevention, honors people that have died from suicide and works to save the lives of future suicide attempts.

The UCA community raised over $7,000 on Saturday’s walk, but donations will continue to be taken at afsp.donordrive.com until June 30, Arkansas Chapter Board Treasurer Annie Deramus said.

Deramus said the money raised will support the national mission of AFSP: to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide.

“A majority of the money will come back to the state of Arkansas and, as a chapter,we implement programs and services to help provide education and prevention,” she said. “We are a voice with legislators through our efforts in the area of advocacy. We focus on supporting those who are and have been affected by suicide.”

Mary Meacham and her team, “Miles for Kyle,” were the top fundraisers, raising over $3,000 for the AFSP walk in honor of her son Kyle, a former UCA student who died by suicide.

178 members of the UCA community walked in the event with teams representing Sigma Nu, Delta Zeta, Phi Sigma Kappa, Circle K Club and UCA Biology, along with students who walked on their own.

Participants were asked to write a memorial or message honoring loved ones that were affected by suicide. AFSP workers

and UCA volunteers used the patches to create a memorial quilt that was displayed by the UCA fountain.

“A lot of people on campus think they are the only person who feels this way and that it somehow makes them crazy and alone,” Director of the UCA Counseling Center Susan Sobel said. “But it doesn’t, it just says that you are in a lot of pain right now and not really seeing a way out of that and there is. For most people it is something that passes and even if it something you deal with on a regular basis there are a ways to deal with that so that it doesn’t become an option to try and take your own life.”

According to afsp.org, suicide is the leading cause of death in the United States with an average of 117 suicides per day.

“Truly the best thing you do is talk,” Deramus said. “Talk about mental health. Talk about what’s going on. Assume that you are the only person that is going to say something to someone and talk to your peers. That is the best that you can do. We can be the voice and we can change the statistics that we have now.”

The AFSP’s mission is to reduce the number of annual suicides by 20 percent before 2025, according to the website.

The UCA Counseling Center is open Monday through Thursday between 8 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. or Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. They also accept phone calls at 501-450-3138 or

If you need to talk to somebody outside of the hours of operation, you may call the UCAPD at (501) 450-3111 and ask to speak to an on- call counselor.

“Even if you don’t want to speak to a counselor, speak to someone,” Sobel said, “ Whether it be a friend, a professor, or a family member, just let someone know because they will care.”

photos by Darian Whitmore

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When I grow up I want to be a nurse, a documentarian ,an elephant conservationist and an owner of many dogs, but for today a college student will suffice.

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