As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the Out of the Darkness Campus Walk, a movement to end suicide, is occuring online through Facebook Live.
Alyssa Jones, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Out of the Darkness Walk chair, said the event is usually held on UNL’s campus to raise awareness for suicide prevention and funds for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Participants across Nebraska who registered on the website will record themselves while they walk and share their stories about why they’re participating on Facebook Live.
Jones said the virtual campus walk will be streamed via the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Nebraska’s Facebook page at 1 p.m. on Sunday. She said there will be speakers, including keynote speaker Laura Shell, associate director of Big Red Resilience and Well-Being.
“Whether you’re impacted by the pandemic because a family member or friend has been infected, the economic downturn has affected you, being isolated due to social distancing, everyone has been impacted by this,” Jones said in an email. “We want to remind people that they’re not alone and provide them resources in how to cope with mental health issues during this time.”
Jones said at the previous walking events, she and others could always rely on the businesses throughout the Lincoln community for support. This year, given the current state of the coronavirus pandemic, she said many businesses have their own personal challenges to deal with. Jones said it was discouraging to know that support wasn’t going to be an option this year, but the event still had to move forward.
She also said in-person interactions and physical advertisements won’t be possible this year. Jones said in-person interactions were not only a way to help advertise for the event, but it was easier to help bring people together at the actual event.
Jones said all walk donations go toward the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention for support, research funding, educational programming and advocating for public policy changes. She said students can make donations via Venmo or on the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website.
The main message Jones wants people to take from this event is that they aren’t alone and opening up a conversation about mental health can help stop suicide.
“Whether you have struggled with suicide yourself or have lost a loved one, know you are not alone,” Jones said in an email. “We need you. We need your voice, your laughter, your thoughts, your ideas. If you’re struggling to get out of bed in the morning, just know I and so many others are so proud of you and understand how hard it can be.”