Out of the Darkness Walk continues commitment to mental health

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Out of the Darkness Walk continues commitment to mental health

Graphic by Brad Kemper '21.

Graphic by Brad Kemper '21.

Graphic by Brad Kemper '21.

Graphic by Brad Kemper '21.

Brad Kemper '21, Staff Writer

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To help raise awareness about suicide, the Out of the Darkness Walk will take place at Grosse Pointe North on May 5. The event’s purpose is to raise awareness and help normalize mental health. The event is being organized by both adults and students.

“Out of the Darkness Walk is a walk that brings the community together to support families and friends of somebody to the death of a suicide,” Mary Jo Harris said. ”Also, it’s to raise awareness of the different mental health resources in our community in case anybody is struggling with depression or anxiety. That way  they know there’s resources out there and they can also get literature from the different tables at the mental health fair.”

Harris said she is coordinating the walk this year. She  works for Care of Southeastern Michigan and said one of her main goals for the event is to bring the community together.

“I’m working with different community groups throughout the Grosse Pointe and Harper Woods area to make sure[everyone is] aware of the walk,” Harris said.  “What’s really cool about the walk is that the walk is at North, but it’s kids from different public schools in it. The community is just really involved.”

Grosse Pointe South Counselor Beth Walsh-Sahutske said she organized the walk twice in the past, but isn’t organizing it this year.

“It’s happening a little earlier this year,” Walsh-Sahutske said. “It’s happening on May 5, starting at 10 and going until 2. We did it a little bit later the last couple years– I think it was the 19 last year, and the year before that, we did it at the very beginning of June.”

According to Walsh-Sahutske, the event will start at North, but the actual course is not that long. She said the length of it is not the main purpose– having  have people drive by and see the walk to raise awareness is.

“It’s usually a mile,” Walsh-Sahutske said. “It’s not really about getting your 5K time or anything like that– it’s really just to show community support when people are driving by and seeing this big group of people walking. Hopefully, they’ll be like ‘what is going on there?’ which willgives us a chance to spread the word.”

Gabi Moncivais ’20 said some students at South are helping to organize the walk along with her.

“I’m helping to organize it with a lot of other wonderful students. (What I’m doing) is to help a little bit with marketing and getting the publicity for it out there,” Moncivais said. “That’s what most of the students are doing. There’s also a lot of adults who’re helping with the logistics and the planning, but (the students)meet up and try to figure out and communicate what’s going on the day of the event.”

One of the main goals of the event, according to Sahutske, is to try and normalize mental health.

“A really big part of mental health awareness is to try to normalize it so people don’t feel like it’s a taboo subject. Everyone needs to know that you have to take care of your mental health just like you take care of a disease.”

About 100 kids, according to Sahutske, attended the events the past few years, and this year, they are trying to expand that number for this walk.

“My goal, my role in the walk, is even if the kids aren’t able to come to the walk, they should just see the flyer and be aware they live in a community or school district where our parents,counselors or community members are all here to support you,” Harris said. “We’re coming together to say  ‘we don’t want any more suicides in this community’. We’re coming together to show support for those who are suffering from depression. We’re coming together to provide resources for people to use to know there’s help out there for them.”

According to Harris, everyday, there is an average of 3000 attempts of suicide by young people in grades 9-12. Harris said there is a unique detail in the walk that could resonate with most.

“One thing that’s cool about the walk is that everybody wears beads to the walk. The beads have colors and the call them ‘Honor Beads’,” Harris said. “Each bead shows your personal connection to suicide and helps show others that no one is alone in this. So, for instance, if you see a person with white beads on, they have lost a child to suicide, and if someone has a purple bead, they have lost a friend or a relative to suicide. So, every bead has a different significance.”