The “Out of the Darkness Walk” raised over $20,000 for American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in addition to Sigma Chi Fraternity’s contribution of $20,000 to the foundation in honor of its late brother JP Swartz.
On Sunday, Oct. 9, more than 500 people assembled at the Trojan Track at the walk to raise awareness, show support and honor those lost to suicide.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, 42,773 people died from suicide in 2014.
“This event is an opportunity for us to raise awareness and reach out to people who might be suffering and need help,” said Amy Minor, chair of Out of the Darkness Walk and board member of American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
“It is an opportunity to honor those we lost to suicide.”
Minor said the event exceeded its goals for the amount of money raised and people attending.
“Our goal for the day was $25,000, but we were able to raise $23,670,” Minor said. “We also had 502 people sign up for the walk.”
Many people, including high school students, came from other cities to participate in the Out of the Darkness Walk.
“I’m here with Astra Team to show support for this walk and ultimately the cause to end death by suicide,” said Dana Parrish, a high school senior form Zion Chapel High School in Jack.
Sigma Chi donated all its philanthropy proceeds to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
“Sigma Chi wanted to donate all of our philanthropy proceeds to AFSP due to the loss of our brother, JP Swartz, to suicide in January 2016,” said Troy Hidle, a junior global business major from Dothan and philanthropy chair at Sigma Chi Eta Phi Chapter. “JP Swartz was a brother in our chapter from 2013-2014. There were a lot of guys that knew JP a lot better than I did, but JP was a good country guy who loved hunting, fishing, baseball and Auburn football.”
Hidle said that the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is one of the main organizations that raise awareness for those with mental illnesses.
“Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US, and AFSP is one of the main organizations speaking out and helping those with mental illnesses,” Hidle said. “AFSP is an organization dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to families and those who have been affected by suicide.”
Freshman Forum and SGA members volunteered to help organize the event on Troy’s campus.
Hunter Haley, a freshman nursing major from Atlanta and FF member, said that he was glad he had the opportunity to volunteer for this cause.
“I’m glad that I was able to help organize the walk,” Haley said. “Suicide is real, and it is nice to have something like this walk to remind people that they can get the support they need and raise awareness of people who might end up saving someone else’s life.
“I am proud that the FF decided to volunteer here; I think it really embodies the values of the forum and its members.”