Community aspires to raise awareness, funds with walk

The Blake community aims to raise $10,000 in donations during the 2nd annual Out of the Darkness Campus Walk that will take place May 21 to support the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention (AFSP).

AFSP sponsors campus walks nationwide to promote awareness and prevention of suicide, using donated funds to provide educational programs, advancements in research, public policy advocacy, and support for those affected by suicide. According to their mission statement, the walks are the AFSP’s way to engage young people and have them involved in the fight against suicide.

Groups including the National Honor Society, Key Club, the counseling department, and other students and families of the community are signed up to participate in the walk, recognizing the importance of joining the fight. Senior Emily Courbron says, “Events like this are so important because people that are struggling need to see just how many people care.”

Counseling secretary and co-organizer of the Blake campus walk Lakesha McMillian participates because she understands the severity of mental illness after having her son lose a close friend to suicide. “You are walking for hope, for prevention, love, your children, your father and mother,” Ms. McMillian says. “You are walking out of the dark for human life.”

Following the suicide of seniors Peter Park and Ethan Miller earlier this year, the walk holds a greater significance on the community. “What happened here at Blake didn’t just affect Blake,” says math and computer programming teacher and co-organizer of the walk Mary Simms. “It affected the whole community and the surrounding schools.”

While the walk can hold different meanings for every person, for Courbron, honoring her fellow classmates was a main factor in her participation. “As seniors we need to take what we’ve learned about supporting our peers, working against bullying, and being proactive to wherever we go next,” she says. “We can spread positivity and make the world a better place, with fewer suicides and more caring, compassionate people.”

Last year was the first time Blake hosted the Out of the Darkness Campus Walk. “It went really well despite the rainy weather.” Ms. Simms says.

If you or someone you know is in need, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255.