Thousands of people marched in unison on Sunday at the Lewis and Clark Landing in an effort to raise awareness about suicide.
Called the “Out of the Darkness Walk,” the event was coordinated with hundreds of other walks to remember loved ones affected by suicide. This year’s total number of attendees was 5,000, according to Jenn Moffatt, Co-Chair of the Nebraska Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
The American Foundation for Suicide Awareness has facilitated the walk for the past fifteen years.
The walk began when the founders of the Omaha walk, Jeanne Pfeifer and Frank Brichacek, attended one of the first ever “Out of the Darkness Walks” in Kansas City and asked how to start one in Omaha, said Moffatt. Pfeifer’s daughter, Amanda, died by suicide at the age of 16. At the time, there were only 24 walks nationwide. Now, over 500 communities in the United States join together for this walk.
The event featured multiple speakers personally affected by suicide and many groups or “teams” joined together to march in the name of those affected by suicide.
“We want to show those affected by suicide, whether they are a suicide loss survivor, someone who struggles with a mental health condition or loves someone who does, that they are not alone,” said Moffatt.
Some Creighton students also joined the effort and created a team for the event. Delta Zeta has attended the walk for fourteen years. The walk was brought to the attention of Delta Zeta member Laura Knapp Leiferman in 2005.
In 2005 Leiferman’s cousin died by suicide on Thanksgiving morning. It affected Leiferman’s entire family and they started attending the walk as a family.
As Leiferman realized that so many people are affected by suicide, she decided to bring the cause to the chapter.
“I am so in awe of the chapter for having kept with it all these years... And by spreading awareness and support for those suffering, even if it is just one person, it is so worth it!”
College of Arts and Sciences junior Abby Neddo coordinated the Delta Zeta team this year. “Walks like this represent what it means to be men and women for and with others, to be here for each other in our deepest sorrows as well as our celebrations,” she said.
While the current members of Delta Zeta attended in support of a sister many have not even met, the effect of this walk was still felt by many current members.
“It breaks my heart that so many people have been affected by suicide,” said College of Arts and Sciences sophomore Bella Scipione. “Events like [this] support so many people from all different backgrounds.”
Moffatt made a variety of suggestions for students passionate about this subject who would like to get more involved.
The walk is always looking for more volunteers and information can be accessed at their website, she said.
Moffatt also said that The American Foundation for Suicide Awareness will also be hosting a Survivor Day on November 23rd on Creighton’s campus, screening a documentary and the possibility of hosting a campus walk as well.
If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.