Annual Out of the Darkness Walk raises $20K for research, support

By Aubrey Turner
For the Prosper Press

Windsong Ranch hosted Prosper’s Annual Suicide Prevention and Awareness walk on Saturday, November 6th.  Teams gathered together to remember those who have died by suicide, as well as give hope to those battling mental illness, and to raise funds for suicide research and prevention.  The walk raised over $26,000 for research and programming.  

Beads were worn throughout the event, each color representing a different way that the participants were connected to someone who died by suicide or survived a suicide attempt.  Beads representing children lost to suicide, the loss of a partner or spouse, the loss of a parent, loss of sibling, loss of a relative, personal struggle, survival of an attempt, and to support the cause of suicide awareness were all available at the event.  Wearing the beads helps connect those who have suffered a similar loss, as many are not able to empathize with that particular loss.

Sasha, Karen, Mari, Kyliegh

Students from Prosper High School and Rock Hill High School Hope Squads volunteered at the event.

“I decided to come to support people and encourage people to get help if they need it,” Sydney said.  “I think it is important that people realize that others also struggle with mental illness and school can be a difficult environment.  People sometimes do not want to say that they are having a hard time.  We are here to help people remember that they are not alone and that other people have felt their pain and want to help them.”

Sitara participated in the event because of a personal struggle as well as her participation in Hope Squad.

Keani, Hailey, and Brandon from Rock Hill High School

“I have personally struggled with suicidal thoughts,” Sitara said.  “I know it is so important to have a support system.  I have talked to parents here who have been such a support for me and helped me realize that I needed to get help.  Now I am doing so much better and I want to give to others so they also feel that support.” 

Kim Blythe participated in the walk. 

The walk raised over $26,000 for research and programming.

“We lost my son Chandler to suicide four and a half years ago,” Blythe said.  “We walk every year in his honor.  The feeling here is difficult to explain.  We are sad, of course, but we are also hopeful because we can help others.  We do not want anyone to suffer in silence.  This event raises awareness and funds for research, which is so important.  We need people to realize that other people feel the same sadness you feel in your life.  I personally talk to a lot of teenagers when they come out here.  I remind them that they are not alone and that they are so loved.” 

“The Hope Squad has been so amazing for Proper and we pray we can bring it into other communities as well,” Blythe said.  “Teens are not always wanting to talk to adults but they are willing to talk to peers.  We help these peers know what to look for with their peers and how to support them.  This is a way we can save children’s lives, which gives us so much hope.” 

Tom Wiesle is the Chairperson for the North Texas Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. 

The walk raised over $26,000 for research and programming.

“Suicide happens in this community,” Waisal said.  “We raise money so we can fund programs to bring awareness.  We also are here to support people who have lost their loved ones who have died by suicide.”

“As a suicide loss survivor, I would invite someone here to let them know they are not alone,” Wiesle said. “It helps people who are grieving to talk about their loss and their loved one.  It is therapeutic to talk about this loss.  Mental health is as important as physical health and we need to remember and support this.”   

“Prosper has been very supportive of this event,” Wiesle said.  “This is our fifth year. Windsong Ranch donates this space each year, which helps with the cost.  There are so many people who come out and help us with the event.  Unfortunately, Prosper has had multiple deatlhs from suicide, both in high school and in the communmity, so people are supportive each other in the community.  We really can not ask for better support than we have here in Prosper.”