PROMES Sponsers Out of the Darkness Walk


Melanie Ziems

The UH Cullen College of Engineering’s PROMES Program is teaming up with the Greater Houston Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) for the fifth year in a row to organize the University of Houston Out of the Darkness Walk, a 3-mile walk around campus benefitting suicide prevention and research efforts.

According to the AFSP, someone in the United States takes their own life every 13.7 minutes. In Texas, suicide is the second-most leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year-olds. Every year, over 38,000 people take their own lives, enough to fill the Toyota Center twice.

Additionally, in 2010, approximately 465,000 people visited a hospital for injuries caused by self-harm, suggesting that about 12 people harm themselves (not necessarily intending to take their lives) for every reported death by suicide.

The figures are staggering, and the AFSP says that at least 90 percent of those who died by suicide were suffering a mental illness at the time of their death – most often depression. The money raised by the Out of Darkness walk goes toward research and education in the areas of depression and suicide.

“Depression and suicidal ideation are more common than you might think, so our goal is to raise awareness and remove the stigma associated with these issues.  As the name suggests, we want to bring depression and suicide 'Out of the Darkness' and begin to treat mental illnesses just as we would any other physical illness," said Kathy Zerda, PROMES Director. "We know that for young people ages 15-24 in our state, suicide is the second leading cause of death.  The highest suicide rate nationally [18.6 per 100,000] is among people 45 to 64 years old.  Thus, students and faculty/staff alike need to educate themselves so that they can learn to detect the signs of depression and suicidal thinking in themselves or their loved ones and seek appropriate help.  When our college engages in activities such as this and other charitable community engagements, we promote values that support a healthy university environment.” 

For the campus walk at UH, the fundraising goal is $10,000. The walk will take place on March 29 at Lynn Eusan Park on the UH campus from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Check-in will begin at 8 a.m., and participants may register up until 1 p.m. on March 28. Donations will continue to be accepted until July 1.

Learn more about the UH campus walk here.

Learn more about the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's data on suicide in the U.S. here.


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