In an attempt to remember, support and acknowledge the ways in which suicide and mental illness affect loved ones, the university social work department along with the Lewis community organized The Out of Darkness Campus Walk that took place April 2 at 10 am. 


Students, faculty and staff were all welcome to participate. Walkers were encouraged to wear honor beads during the walk, with each bead color representing a different loss/struggle, showing support for one another.


Event organizer and social work professor Dr. Lori McMeel shared the importance of the suicide prevention walk.


“This walk brings together our community in such a powerful way and truly models the values of the Lewis community,” said McMeel.

“We have over 100 participants registered for the walk and have nearly doubled our initial fundraising goal of $5,000.”


The walk was in conjunction with the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and will help the AFSP raise awareness and funds that allow them to invest in new research, create educational programs, advocate for public policy and support loved ones of suicide victims.


McMeel makes it clear the event’s purpose. “This walk symbolizes hope for a brighter tomorrow.”


One of the leading causes of teen deaths in the United States is suicide. According to the AFSP, on average there are  132 suicides daily across the U.S., with one happening every 12.8 minutes. Suicide is currently the tenth leading cause of death in the United States and is the second leading cause of death for those between the ages of 10 and 34.


If you or anyone you know is suffering from suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at (800) 273-8255. The university also has resources available through the 

Center for Health and Counseling Services that is located in the lower level of Mother Teresa A variety of services are offered. The center can also be reached at (815) 836-5455.


Photo Credit: Luis Chavez

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