Out of darkness walk raises awareness for suicide prevention


Amelia Klingberg, News Beat

Mental Health Awareness Week concluded with an Out of the Darkness walk to raise awareness for suicide prevention on Friday, March 18.

Ambassadors, a leadership organization at MVHS that advocates for mental health and organizes events to bring the community together, hosted the walk on the school track.

 Students and community members wore green shirts handed out by the Ambassadors. Others donned different colored beaded necklaces, each color symbolizing their relation to how suicide or death of a loved one in their life. 

Students walk around track to support suicide awareness

“[The walk] represents a community coming together and uniting in the face of a mental health crisis and in the name of suicide prevention and it’s symbolic that we will walk out of the darkness together,” Ambassadors president Sydney Fung said. 

Many walkers shared that they attended the event to support their friends and family.

“I am here because I think suicide prevention is everyone’s responsibility. And I think by showing up and showing support and breaking the stigma surrounding mental health and talking about suicide, we can make a real impact in the health and wellness of our community,” Assistant Principal Marti McGuirk said. 

“Our community is in a mental health crisis. We’ve lost three students in the past five years, and it’s really important for us to bring mental health to the forefront of our community,” Fung said. 

Ambassadors had several speakers, including a Stanford student who had lost her brother to suicide, a mental health clinician from El Camino Hospital and the former Mayor of Palo Alto, Vic Ojakian.

Ambassadors also hosted 11 community mental health organizations: Pacific Clinics, Community Services Agency, CHAC, allcove, HEARD Alliance, Project Safety Net, Youth Community Service, the ASPIRE Program at El Camino Hospital, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and the Bill Wilson Center. The organizations educated attendees about their services and suicide prevention resources.

After the setting sun painted the gray cloud pink and the sky darkened, a lantern lighting ceremony ended the event with the crowd singing together. 

“We hope to show support for everybody struggling with their mental health. We have to educate people and give them resources to help themselves or help their loved ones. We want not only our students but our community to know that we’re here for them, and we will do everything we can to support them in their needs,” Fung said.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, you can fill out the school district’s mental health referral form at bit.ly/mvlasupport.