Mental health and suicide can be difficult topics to talk about, but not ones that should go unaddressed.
“Silence breeds stigma and shame, and so really the name of the walk is the Out of Darkness Walk so that we can come out of the darkness, and we can talk about it,” Robert Cardom, a licensed psychologist, said. “So that when people are struggling, they will seek support and they know where support is and they know that they are not alone.”
On Sunday, the University at Albany hosted its 12th Out of Darkness Walk to raise money for suicide prevention resources, and let those who struggle with mental health know they aren’t alone.
“One of the hardest things about having these thoughts is that you feel like you are the only one, Cardom said. “We all have mental health, let’s all work on supporting each other.”
Many of the event volunteers were UAlbany students, a number of which had a personal reason to be there.
“My friend was the life of the party, he was the person that brought a smile to everyone’s face,” Tamia Wellington said. “No one really knew what he was going through so for me it’s just a matter of saying everyone is someone who should be there for everyone.”
Wellington serves on the middle earth team that provides mental health consulting for peers.
With crowds of her fellow students showing up for the walk, she wanted them to know, the resources are there for them.
“The real thing here right now is to say you have resources, you have people here that are ready to listen to you,” Wellington said. “You have people that are here ready to help you and you know, just come forward.”
This year’s walk marked the largest turnout in school history. With more than 600 walkers registered and $21,000 raised for suicide prevention resources.
Tamia says the large turnout makes their message loud and clear: Change the stigma, and bring more attention to mental health.
“Every year it definitely gets louder and I definitely feel like this year in particular after COVID, we are making such a big comeback,” Wellington said. “And heck if I might say so myself we are shouting from the rooftops.”