By: Attorney, Stacy J. Crider
On May 17th, my family and I participated in the 4th Annual Columbus Indiana Out of the Darkness Campus Walk for suicide prevention. We have participated each year and this event is very special to us. The organizer of the Columbus walk is Kisha Allman. Kisha and I grew up next door to each other and have been best friends since before we can remember. Kisha’s father, Johnnie Simpson, struggled with severe depression for several years before he lost his battle in 2008. He was a father of four, a grandfather of two, and loved by many.
Kisha felt she had to do something to make a difference, for her father’s memory, for her little brothers and sister, for her children, for herself and for others who are going through what her family and her father went through. She reached out to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and developed Columbus Indiana’s first Out of the Darkness Campus Walk. The money raised is used for forming support groups, training first responders on how to deal with individuals in crisis, support for people struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts, research on depression and mental illness, and other programs to help bring awareness to this issue and hopefully help prevent future loss to suicide. This year, more than 300 walkers participated and over $12,000 raised and donations are still coming in as the deadline isn’t until June 30, 2014. We are still hopeful to reach our goal of $15,000 for this year. Over these four years, 800 people have participated and raised almost $60,000!
The event not only raises money for this cause, it also provides healing for the participants. Many have lost someone to suicide. The day of the walk there are tears, hugs, and far too many loved ones missed. I saw a mother and father who lost their son to suicide. He was a kind, funny, intelligent man. I graduated high school with him and he was my friend. He struggled with mental illness for many years and I am very sad to say, he lost his battle with Schizophrenia in 2011. His family’s shirts read, “Suicide does not end the chances of life getting worse. Suicide eliminates the possibility of it ever getting better.”
Kisha’s hope is that through things like this walk, there will be less stigma surrounding depression and suicide. Society should embrace and support people dealing with mental illness, the same as those dealing with physical illness. Even when things look their darkest, there is a way out. Suicide is never the answer.
If you or someone you love is having thoughts of suicide please reach out, there are many people who want to help. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
For more information on the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention or to find out about a walk in your community, please visit: http://www.afsp.org/
For more information on the Columbus Indiana Out of the Darkness Campus walk, please visit: http://afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.event&eventID=2542