Hundreds gather on University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus for suicide prevention walk

Ariel Zach, a sophomore at UNL, looked out at hundreds of supporters as she shared an intimate piece of her life with friends, family and strangers alike. 

“At four years old I experienced the damaging effects of suicide, but all I really knew for years was that my daddy was gone,” Zach said.

Zach, who lost her father to suicide when she was five years old, has grown from her experiences and sees the Out of the Darkness walk as an opportunity to connect with others. She ended her speech with the request that the participants introduce themselves to someone new.

“This walk is about finding people who understand what you’ve gone through and are currently going through,” Zach said.

On Sunday, April 8, hundreds of students and Nebraskan citizens gathered to participate in the Out of the Darkness campus walk sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 

AFSP funds research, prevention programs and educational outreach for those affected by suicide. The walk reached just over $18,000 of its $25,000 goal, all of which will go to the foundation. 

Jennifer Moffett, the chair of the Nebraska chapter of AFSP, has worked closely with the UNL campus walk since its inception three years ago.

“The more people talk and connect, the more people feel comfortable getting help,” Moffett said.

Moffett has worked closely with Shelby Williby, a senior at UNL, over the years in coordinating the event on UNL’s campus.

Williby brought the event to UNL’s campus with the hope that it would provide a space for people to talk about suicide and its effects. 

A large portion of the crowd was made up of fraternity and sorority members who are participating in the walk as part of Greek Weekend. Centered around The Big Event, Greek Weekend focuses on supporting local organizations and student involvement through collaboration and competition.

Despite her graduation in May, Williby is confident that the other members of the executive team will continue the event in the future.

Noelle Ervin, a junior at UNL, is one of these members.

She has participated in the event since she was a freshman and what started as a sorority obligation became much more meaningful.

“I was going through a really difficult time last year and this walk was something for me to look forward to,” Ervin said.

Ervin will take over as coordinator of the UNL Out of the Darkness Walk next spring.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *