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Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Out of the Darkness Walk hopes to raise awareness about mental health

Emilee+Hunt+writes+that+before+she+dies%2C+she+wants+to+take+my+nephew+camping.+Her+nephew+is+only+a+few+weeks+old%2C+but+she+already+cant+wait+to+take+him+camping+one+day.+Photo+credit%3A+Olyvia+Simpson
Emilee Hunt writes that before she dies, she wants to “take my nephew camping.” Her nephew is only a few weeks old, but she already can’t wait to take him camping one day. Photo credit: Olyvia Simpson

For people who have lost a loved one to suicide or for those who struggle with their mental health, it can be hard to find a good support system. The ninth annual “Out of the Darkness Walk” was designed to help give people that much-needed support system, as well as provide resources that can help maintain a healthy mind.

”Out of the Darkness” is a part of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). It is a local walk to raise awareness about suicide prevention and help decrease the stigma around reaching out for help.

“I lost someone to suicide when I was in high school and I felt like I was the only one,” said event organizer Ariel Ellis, who helped start the event back in 2010.

“I think for somebody who (had) a more recent loss, to come here and see all the other people who also experienced a loss, to know that they are not alone.”

The event had a number of activities that attendees could participate in, as well as a raffle. Many of the local business around Chico generously donated items as prizes and the money raised goes towards the AFSP.

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Brianna McAlpin and Nicolle Bermudez show their support for suicide awareness in the community while Lisset Terrazas takes a photo. Photo credit: Olyvia Simpson

Psychologist, Stephanie Chervinko, a counselor at the wellness center at Chico State, spoke on the importance of events like “Out of the Darkness Walk” and how they provide people with an opportunity to talk about and learn about suicide.

“It’s something I think we don’t talk enough about and I think people who might be struggling with or suffering, might be reluctant to seek help,” said Chervinko.

“And so one of the things that I think can help (are) events like these. It can let people know that help is available and also really normalize reaching out for help,”

In addition to the walk around downtown Chico, there were about 20 organizations at the event with resource booths that were available to assist people who struggle with mental health.

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Ellijah Bowers and Ryan Buhler pick up beaded necklaces from Hannah Gonzalez and Luvy Ruiz. The different bead colors represent the different personal connections an individual may have with suicide. Photo credit: Olyvia Simpson

“There are people here walking to remember a loved one they lost, there are people here currently struggling with depression and/or suicide ideation and then there some people here who just support the cause,” said Ellis.

One of the booths at their event was “UMatter,” an outreach branch of the counseling center at Chico State where they provide educational presentations and table events to start conversations about mental health.

“It’s a way to bring information to students, and let them know that there are resources out there to let them know that struggles with mental health are a normal thing to experience especially during the stressful time of college,” said Program Coordinator, Dr. Jessica Magallane.

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Carol Kelly pets four-year-old Golden Retriever, Baylee, who is a support animal. Photo credit: Olyvia Simpson
beadsOPT.jpg
Ellijah Bowers and Ryan Buhler pick up beaded necklaces from Hannah Gonzalez and Luvy Ruiz. The different bead colors represent the different personal connections an individual may have with suicide. Photo credit: Olyvia Simpson
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Emilee Hunt writes that before she dies, she wants to "take my nephew camping." Her nephew is only a few weeks old, but she already can't wait to take him camping one day. Photo credit: Olyvia Simpson
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“Umatter” brought their “Before I die” wall to the event. The wall was started by the director of “Umatter,” Juni Banerjee-Stevens, as a way to start a conversation about suicide.

“It really is a way for students to be interactive in thinking about their life and (start) thinking about what they want to do in their life and hopefully create a point of hope,” Dr. Magallanes said.

Alex Coba can be reached at [email protected] or @ThatOneGuyCoba on Twitter.

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