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Suicide Walk to raise funds, awareness

 

When most high school seniors are spending their days dreaming and planning for the future, Brooke Schmutte spent much of her final year at school trying to understand why a close friend decided to take their own life.

To gain a better understanding of depression and the reasons someone would choose to end their life, she became involved in local clubs and fundraisers aimed at raising money and awareness about suicide. She helped start a club at her high school in Indianapolis called How to Save a Life.

After graduation, she came to the University of Mississippi where she’s continued that same work and is this year’s co-chair for the Out of the Darkness Walk, sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, that raises money for research, to create educational programs, advocate for public policy and support survivors of suicide loss.

The other co-chair, Maddy Gumbko also lost a friend to suicide.

“We decided we’d bring the walk here together and try to help by raising money and awareness about suicide — signs to look for, ways we can help and resources available for those needing help,” Schmutte said.

The walk will begin at 2 p.m. Sunday starting at the Grove. It will be a 5-mile walk around the campus. Walkers can help raise funds by having people donate to sponsor their team. Some teams have held their own fundraisers.

Individuals can walk and registration is allowed on the day of the walk. There’s no fee to sign up to walk; however, those who raise, or donate, $125 or more will get a free T-shirt.

“All the money raised will go to the American Foundation,” Schmutte said. “I want people to better understand what depression is and signs to look for. I want people to know they can speak out, we’re all here to help. That’s our main goal — to let people know we are here for them.”

Organizers set a goal of $5,000 for their first event.

“We’ve already exceeded that,” Schmutte said.

As of Friday, $7,753 has been raised from the walkers already registered for the event.