A group of Pace upper school students and faculty, including those pictured here, will be walking on Sunday, Nov. 4. Photo: Omar López Thismón

Mark your calendars, because the Out of the Darkness Walk takes place Sunday, Nov. 4, at 2 p.m. in Piedmont Park. Pace Academy will be participating for the third consecutive year. The goal of the Out of the Darkness Walk is to raise funds and awareness for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), which hopes to reduce the suicide rate by 20% by 2025.

Pace upper school counselor Sara Eden invites students, teachers and anyone in the Pace community to participate. Not only can you participate by walking, but you can donate money by selecting a Pace team member participating in the walk, like sophomores Henry Berman and Elliot Mathis, at the website,  https://afsp.donordrive.com/team/PaceKnights. The Pace team has raised $6426 so far. The first year Pace participated in 2016, the team raised more money than any other team at the Atlanta walk, with a grand total of more than $16,000.

The event is “eyedropping as you see how many people this effects,” said Mrs. Eden. Across the country, nearly 250,000 people walk in hundreds of cities in support of the AFSP. She encourages students to walk to “join with others who feel strongly about mental health.”

Pace team member Mathis has raised over $1,400 in support and plans to raise more. “This issue is close to my heart and important to me because I experienced this in others around me and I want to help raise awareness,” said Elliot. Additionally, sophomore Eve Kogon plans to participate in the event to “spread the word about AFSP’s causes,” she said.

Pace students can all help address this issue in their everyday lives. “Pace makes sure that every student feels connected to an adult on campus . . .  no one should feel completely isolated,” said Mrs. Eden. The key is to “watch for mood or behavior changes in your friends,” she said. Unfortunately, Pace has experienced this issue first hand as they “first did [the Out of the Darkness Walk] two years ago after they lost two students to suicide,” said Mrs. Eden. 

The Student Advisory Board (SAB) is a group of upper school students who raise awareness of the mental health issues that affect Pace students. Watch out for Semicolon Day which SAB has planned. “At the end of a sentence is a period, but if you put a semicolon, it connects two sentences,” said Mrs. Eden. “It’s all about how your sentence isn’t over and it continues. This event will bring awareness to people who have struggled with suicidal thoughts and have chosen life instead.”