CAPS to Host 14th Annual 'Out of the Darkness' Walk for Mental Health Awareness and Suicide Prevention

Participants line up for the 2023 Out of the Darkness Walk at UAlbany’s Entry Plaza. In front, seven smiling students hold a blue banner suspended on a wooden rod that says: "American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Capital Region New York". The sky is cloudy and the Massry Business School can be seen in the background.
Participants line up for the 2023 "Out of the Darkness" Walk. (Photo by Patrick Dodson)

By Erin Frick 

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 16, 2024) — The University at Albany will host its 14th annual "Out of the Darkness" walk on Sunday, April 21 at noon, beginning at the Uptown Campus Entry Plaza. Coordinated by UAlbany’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), the event will include tabling, a brief speaker program and remembrance ceremony and 1.5-mile walk. 

The “Out of the Darkness" campus walks are the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's (AFSP) chief fundraising program. The walks aim to engage youth and young adults in efforts to promote mental health and reduce stigma around seeking treatment. Each year, hundreds of walks are organized in communities across the U.S. to show support, raise awareness and generate funds for local AFSP chapters. 

Proceeds from the UAlbany walk support the Capital Region AFSP chapter, which leads critical work to promote mental health and prevent suicide in our community. Capital Region AFSP activities include delivering prevention programs, educating the public about risk factors and warning signs, raising funds for suicide research and programs, and supporting those who have lost someone to suicide.

UAlbany’s 2023 walk drew 855 participants, making it the second largest campus walk in the nation. The event raised over $32,000 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention—the tenth highest amount raised by any walk last year. 

“UAlbany's OOTD walk is an opportunity see and feel support for this important issue, from all around campus, as well as the broader Albany community,” said senior Brianna Lennon, an active member of UAlbany’s Middle Earth Peer Assistance Program, which plays a major role in coordinating the annual event. 

“Every year, we bring hundreds of people together to raise money for suicide prevention education, and to support those who have struggled with mental health or even lost someone to suicide. Not only do we get to see so much love and support, but those who speak at the beginning of the event are always so inspiring, sharing about changes that have been made, and steps we can take to continue the fight to end suicide.”

Students stand next two to racks of colorful beaded necklaces at the 2023 walk. The colors of the beads signify different connections someone might have to the issue of suicide.
All “Out of the Darkness" walk participants are invited to wear beads that signify their connection to the cause. (Photo by Patrick Dodson)

The family-friendly event will include food, photo opportunities and music, including live performances by UAlbany’s marching band. Community organizations and student groups will begin tabling at noon. 

At 1 p.m., the pre-walk ceremony will begin with remarks by UAlbany President Havidán Rodríguez, Congressman Paul Tonko and New York State Assemblymember Patricia Fahy. Dan Egan, AFSP Capital Region Chapter Board Chair, will perform the sand pouring ceremony, in remembrance of those lost to suicide.

“‘Out of the Darkness’ creates an impactful visual representation of people who care about this important cause,” said UAlbany senior Megan Van Vort, who serves as president of Middle Earth. “You can look around at every person who is there and know that they took time out of their day to show their support. With suicide, we often talk about ‘you matter,’ and the walk is filled with people who share that mentality. We create a positive energy around a deeply challenging topic.

“Often with suicide, we think of people being alone, but with the walk, so many people come together that you can't really feel alone. It's almost hard to put into words the emotions that I feel at the walk, but ultimately, I always feel good because I feel like I am making a difference.”

Registration for the walk is free and all are welcome to participate. Free parking will be available in the Colonial Quad Commuter Parking Lot and day-of registrants are welcome. The walk will proceed rain or shine.

Get Involved 

Sign up to walk

You can sign up as a solo walker or create a team by visiting the walk registration page. You may also search for an existing team to join if you would like to participate as part of a student organization or community group that has already created one. 

Volunteer at the event

CAPS is seeking volunteers to help with event set-up, on-site registration, day-of event activities and clean up. Please contact us by email at [email protected] or by phone at 518-442-5800 to let us know how you would like to help out. 

Community service hours

Event participants can receive up to three hours of community service for attending the event. Event volunteers — those who assist with day-of tasks to support the event — can receive up to five community service hours. Sign up on Engage UAlbany to register for community service hours. 

Table with your org

Student organizations and community groups interested in tabling at the walk can fill out the Tabling Interest Form and a CAPS representative will be in touch with more information. 

Mental Health Resources at UAlbany

Confidential, free mental health resources are available to all students through UAlbany’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). To learn more or to make an appointment, visit the CAPS webpage.

In the event of a mental health emergency, students may call CAPS at 518-442-5800 any time of day or night to speak with a mental health professional.

Students can connect with peers trained in listening who can offer support through the Middle Earth Peer Assistance hotline: 518-442-5777.

Additional information on urgent mental health concerns is also available.

Community Supports

If you are experiencing a mental health concern or are considering suicide, help is available by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.

In a mental health emergency, you can also call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.