With thousands participating in Out of the Darkness walks across the country, each participant contributes his or her voice to break the silence surrounding suicide. Over 35 campuses held suicide prevention walks in 2013, and UC Berkeley’s Second Annual Suicide Prevention Walk stood out as one of the top fundraising Campus Walk in the nation. UC Berkeley students’ and community members’ thundering footsteps and cheering voices brought crowds of AFSP supporters to the campus on April 7, 2013 as 500 walkers marched around campus and raised over $30,000 (well above the $10,000 goal) to donate to AFSP.
The morning began with an opening ceremony filled with inspirational stories of overcoming hardship and why people are so passionate about raising mental health awareness. Participants and passersby alike stopped by at the various booths set up in the You Mean More resource fair which included a handprint memorial wall where people could paint their hand and leave their mark as a supporter of the cause, write a post-in note about “What Keeps You Going,” fill a balloon with flour at a stress-ball making station, learn how to fold an origami cranes, and visit informational booths hosted by on-campus resources including SPILL and SSPC. Hundreds of people lined up at Sather Gate as several You Mean More members proudly held the Out of the Darkness banner and led the group of 500 through the UC Berkeley campus, looping around the Valley Life Sciences Building and making their way up past Memorial Glade, all proudly walking in support of the cause or in memory of their loved ones as they reached the cheering volunteers who greeted them at the walk concluded at the entrance to Sproul Plaza. The day ended with an uplifting closing ceremony filled with wonderful live vocal performances by Danelle Sandoval and Ryan Tabura, as walk participants gathered together in a unified effort to shed light upon the beauty and importance of life and community in the fight against suicide.
Proceeds from the walk benefitted both local and national mental health and suicide prevention and awareness programs: 50% of the proceeds from the walk were distributed to support suicide prevention programs for the bay area chapter of AFSP and 50% to support national suicide prevention campaigns. Walkers and fundraisers supported many beneficial eduction and prevention programs right here at Cal, including the Interactive Screening Program at the Tang Center which was implemented with the funds raised from the first UC Berkeley Suicide Prevention Walk.