Walk remembers those lost to suicide


Ariel Ellis, psychology graduate student, commemorates her friends at the remembrance tree. Photo credit: Brandon Foster

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Photos by Brandon Foster

“His name was Dustin and he was the funniest, happiest person I had met,” said Ariel Ellis, a psychology graduate student. Ellis lost her friend to suicide in high school. She payed tribute to him alongside many who suffered from losing someone to suicide.

Chico City Plaza swarmed with friends and family on Saturday as they prepared to march through downtown for the 5th annual Out of the Darkness Walk, dedicated to lives lost to suicide.

The event also acted as a fundraiser for the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention.

Robyn Engel, who lost both her brother and ex-husband to suicide, has been the walk’s coordinating chair for the past seven years and shared why she loves the annual walk and what it personally means to her.

“They’ve given me strength and courage to find my own strength and courage to be in this leadership position,” Engel said.

At the walk, there was a remembering tree where walkers could hang a leaf with a name of a lost loved one on the tree.

Rebecca Banuelos, a senior communication sciences and disorders major, whose cousin’s girlfriend committed suicide over the summer, hung a leaf.

“The importance of this walk is just letting people know that they are loved and never alone,” Banuelos said. “You want to let people know that there are people that care and support them.”

With 247 participants at this year’s walk, $8,527 was raised, shy of the $15,000 goal. The fundraiser goal is raised every year and the number of participants has continued to grow each year.

“People are talking now, they are talking about mental illness and depression and suicide,” Engel said. “There’s such a great need which is tragic but on the other hand we are coming together as a community to fight which is a wonderful and a beautiful thing.”

Taylor Sinclair can be reached at [email protected] or @TaySinclair17 on Twitter.