Louisville hosts Out of the Darkness Walk for suicide awareness Wednesday, Nov 11 2020 

By Alex Tompkins — 

The Louisville Out of the Darkness Walk (sponsored in part by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention) is an annual event that takes place in November at Waterfront Park on the North Great Lawn. Before COVID-19 restrictions were in place, members of the community would gather to walk Waterfront Park in remembrance of those whose lives were lost due to suicide.

The walk originated in 2002 as a memorial walk for a local man who took his life. The event includes live music, memorials of lost loved ones, and rows of shoes that belonged to those who passed. This year, the walk started on Nov. 6 and ended Nov. 8.

What made this event so important was the persistence to continue the annual walk despite the conditions of our world. There were plenty of ways to be involved this year.

There was a memory wall adorned with pictures, photo stops along the route of the walk, and a scavenger hunt where participants were entered to win a prize. At the end of the walk, participants could sign their names on a large board surrounding the word “hope.”

One of the most heartfelt parts of the event was the honor beads ceremony, which took place virtually this year.

Each different-colored set of beads represents someone’s reason for walking and attending the event. Most of the founders, chairs, and volunteers have some reason for being involved in the walk. During the bead ceremony, each speaker was able to share their story and talk about the color representation of the beads. Participants wore their beads while walking the route to share their own stories and connect with others attending the walk.

In the midst of the uncertainty and darkness in the world, it is crucial to push helpful resources and hope to those in the community. The walk highlighted the importance of mental health and checking in on others no matter if they seem fine or not. The reassurance, community, and feeling of hope the annual walk provided is something profound that everyone should take their time to be a part of.

Megan Cole, Kentucky AFSP area director, shared ways to create a culture that is compassionate about mental health during this year’s opening ceremony.

“If you know someone who is struggling, just listen to them,” Cole said. “Give them a chance to share their story without offering any advice or passing any judgment. Know that everyone experiences mental health differently, and that is ok.”

If you or someone you know is struggling, the suicide prevention lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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Cards SPEAK is helping promote mental wellness on campus Thursday, Sep 26 2019 

By Jessica Kisling —

A majority of colleges and universities offer resources or programs to help students struggling with mental health and suicidal thoughts. The University of Louisville is no exception with their Cards Suicide Prevention, Education, Awareness, Knowledge (SPEAK) program that was established in 2015.

Cards SPEAK partners with the Dean of Students, counseling center and the psychology department to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the university’s students. “We want to enlist students, faculty, and staff to help each other,” said student care manager Geri Morgan. “[We want to] equip students with the knowledge to help.”

“Cards SPEAK increases U of L’s capacity to offer a coordinated and culturally competent campus message to increase the U of L community’s overall mental health awareness, with an emphasis on suicide prevention,” states their website.

Cards SPEAK is located on the third floor of the SAC and is open Monday through Friday to aid students through grief, recovery and other struggles. They also work with the family and friends of students on knowing how to handle these circumstances.

The program offers an online course, Kognito, and workshops for students. These online sessions teach the students how to promote mental health and possibly prevent someone from committing suicide and taking their life.

Another goal of the program is to establish a safety plan to cope before you have suicidal thoughts, according to graduate assistant Katie Watterson. Cards SPEAK is looking to get rid of the stigma that surrounds the topic of suicide as well.

If students know their resources and have ways to deal with these situations, it allows them to help their peers and friends. The program also makes sure to check back in with everyone who comes to see them to ensure the students are doing okay.

According the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death for those aged 10 to 34 in America.

Cards SPEAK exists in order to help the students of the university and to make sure they are mentally healthy, however they are not open 24/7 and are not a crisis line. They urge that if you or a loved one is considering suicide, please contact the national suicide crisis line at 1-800-273-8255.

Graphic By Alexis Simon / The Louisville Cardinal 

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