Out of the Darkness to Fight Suicide


Chandler Cooper, Staff Reporter

The Out of the Darkness Walk to Fight Suicide, hosted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, was held on IU Southeast’s campus at McCullough Plaza, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sep. 30. The event welcomed students and faculty as well as Chancellor Ray Wallace and the community to support the need to talk about mental illness and suicide.

“Suicide is the second leading cause of death in young adults ages 18 to 24,” said Karen Richie, counselor care manager for personal counseling.

Richie gives insight on why suicide and mental illness is important to discuss.

“I think suicide feels like the blinders are on and it’s the only option that we can pinpoint,” Richie said. “It’s the only solution that makes sense to that individual at that time because everything else is tunnel vision. Everything else has kind of evacuated the space. We hope through therapy, through talking with someone else, through exploring what that is, that we can kind of branch that back out, open those blinders and take those off to where we can see there are other options and there are other ways to help in a situation that feels, at that time, hopeless.”

People gathered around the clock tower in McCullough Plaza to support one another and listen to each other’s stories. Two IU Southeast students spoke to the crowd about the reality of suicide and the impact it’s had on their lives.

Lauren Burch, sociology junior, shared her personal experience with her own suicide attempt and that she’s thankful she is still here today.

Burch raised the most money for the walk by fundraising $1,190 for suicide prevention research, education and advocacy with her initial goal being only $500.

“Nobody deserves to think that ending their life is the only choice they have because it’s not,” said, Burch. “I’m here. I’m still in college. I’m pushing through. Basically, my favorite quote is to turn your pain into power, and that’s what I’ve done.”.

Burch also mentions picking up a book titled “Make Your Bed” by William H. McRaven. The book recognizes inspirational life tips from a retired navy seal and helped Burch get through her tough times.

“I started making my bed every day since then,” Burch said.

Cory Byers, sophomore psychology major, spoke about his stepmother, Charlie Jean Lilly, losing her battle to mental illness and committing suicide in 2016.

“One of the things that we love to talk about is how bright she was, how caring and loving of an individual she was, and her name lives on through each and every one of us, and we still do it for Charlie, and that’s why we’re here,” Byers said.

Byers said the experience of telling his story was amazing.

“Being able to effectively communicate with the community and raise awareness for such an amazing cause, not only shows our strength in numbers to help combat suicide, but also makes it aware that we’re here for others who are struggling as well,.” Byers said.

Emily Bennett, IU Bloomington graduate in health care administration, alongside Janet Bennett and Samantha Fox, came out to honor a family member who took his own life. The crew wore custom t-shirts in memoriam.

Janet Bennett said, “We called him Poss, so we put keep going Poss’s posse.”

Those who attended the event were able to write down why they came and stick their reasons to the poster board in front of the registration booth. Many showed up to celebrate the lives of those they’ve lost to suicide and promote awareness for the cause.

Many dogs were in attendance as well. Chancellor Ray Wallace even brought his dog, Shaymus, to the walk.

The event ended with the noon sun coming down upon walkers as they gathered around the clock tower in McCullough Plaza.