Out of the Darkness

Suicide prevention walk honors victims, supports survivers


New Mexico State University will be hosting its first Out of the Darkness Campus Walk on April 13. The event will be a collaboration with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the NMSU School of Nursing. In 2023, a community walk was held for the cause in Las Cruces.   

The Out of the Darkness Campus Walk is the signature student fundraising event for the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. The NMSU walk will begin at 9 a.m. at the NMSU Corbett Outdoor Stage, 2795 S. Locust St. Onsite registration time begins at 8 a.m. and the walk route will be 2.18 miles. Participates will have the opportunity to choose between 10 honor beads to wear during the walk. Each color symbolizes their reason for walking.              

 “The Out of the Darkness Walks are journeys of remembrance and events that unite a community. It is an acknowledgment of the ways in which suicide and mental illness have affected our lives and our loved ones. We all wear honor beads – each color shows our personal connection to the cause, and helps us identify others who understand our experience,” said Sheena Merino, Mental Health Education Specialist at NMSU Office of Health Promotion. 

Each color of the honor beads and what wearing them can mean to a person are: white for loss of a child, red for loss of a spouse or partner, gold for loss of a parent, orange for loss of a sibling, purple for loss of a relative or friend, silver for loss of a first responder/military, green for a personal struggle or attempt, teal for supporting someone who struggles or has attempted, blue for supporting suicide prevention and rainbow to honor the LGBTQ community. 

“This cause is extremely important because in our community and on the NMSU campus there are those affected by suicide,” Merino said. “By raising awareness and having the Out of Darkness Walk be at NMSU we are strongly sending the message that suicide can be preventable and that no one is alone. Suicide is preventable and mental health is just as important as physical health. Together we can change the conversation and create a world without suicide.” 

Registration for the walk can be done on supporting.afsp.org and selecting NMSU. Teams and individuals can register and there is no fee to join. NMSU has a fundraising goal of $10,000 and has raised over $3,000 so far. Participants that fundraise $100 individually will receive an official walk shirt. There are other ways to support the cause as well by becoming a sponsor or volunteering at the walk.  

“For this being the first annual suicide Prevention walk for 2024 at NMSU I believe it is such a huge community effort,” she said. “You can see how everyone plays a role in shining the light on this matter. From our community partners in Las Cruces being a sponsor and donating for this walk, there is much proactiveness from everyone that you might not see in different areas.”

“Suicide is the 11th the leading cause of death in the Unites States and the 3rd leading cause of death amongst ages 15-24,” Merino said. “A 2022 Harris Poll revealed that 75 percent of adults in the U.S. believe it is more important than ever to make suicide prevention a national priority. Your support will help bring our work to our schools and community, as well as show your customers and employees that you care about mental health and preventing suicide.”

For more information, contact Merino at merinos1@nmsu.edu. If you are in crisis, call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 998 or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting 741-741.