Arkansas Tech University and St. Mary’s Hospital have teamed up to shine a light upon suicide through the Out of the Darkness walk. The walk’s aim is to help raise money for suicide programs, advocacy and research, all of which stays local.
This year’s goal is to raise $20,000 but so far they have only raised $8,182. Half of the funds raised will go to national suicide prevention efforts.
Tech started this campus walk three years ago when Tonya Gosnell, community education manager at Saint Mary’s Regional Medical Center, wanted to get more involved with the Russellville community. She found that the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) raised money through campus walks and thought that would be the easiest way to get the community and Tech together.
Gosnell was already helping Tech students navigate their metal health issues and decided to reach out to Kristy Davis, associate dean for student wellness. From conversation, the two organized the first campus walk in 2014.
The walk brings together people who have lost loved ones to suicide and shares information about suicide prevention.
“Five hundred people came to walk, and it just shows you that there is such a need,” Gosnell said. “So many people suffer from depression, anxiety and other such things and are at a high risk for suicide.”
That walk raised $16, 536 and made Tech the number 10 school for raising money for the AFSP; Gosnell remembers expecting the goal for the first year to be around $6,000.
The next year, 2015, Gosnell and Davis made the monetary goal $20,000, challenging their previous success. They almost reached that goal by raising $19,674.
“We’re hoping to boost it up to the next level this year,” Davis said. “Every dollar counts.”
This year’s walk will be held at 9 a.m. on April 16 at the Doc Bryan Center. The walk lasts for about an hour and speakers talk before and after the walk. To register or donate go online to atuoutofthedarkness.org or contact Davis at (479) 968-0329. Registration is open until the walk start but donations can be made online until June 30.