You never walk alone: People march ‘Out of Darkness’ of suicide

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Attendees of the Out of the Darkness Walk in Houghton release dove balloons on which they had written personalized messages at the Kestner Waterfront Park Saturday.

HOUGHTON — From signs on the ground to personalized messages sent through the air, marchers at the Out of the Darkness Walk in Houghton Saturday sent a consistent message: You are not alone.

The march, the first one in Houghton, was put on by the Houghton and Keweenaw Suicide Prevention Coalition in connection with Suicide Prevention Month. Kristen Rundman, counselor at Houghton High School and a member of the coalition, said suicide is the second-biggest cause of death for students 10 to 18.

“That to me says we really need to raise awareness and get people connected with resources that can support them in tough situations,” she said.

Rundman said music can play a role in encouraging people to survive. She praised songs such as a recent song by Logic titled “1-800-273-8255” after the phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The hotline received the second-highest call volume in its history after a performance of the song on MTV.

“We’re here to kind of bring awareness and shine a light, and then point people to resources to resources so they can step up, either for themselves or for people who they know who are struggling,” she said.

Lauren Kirwin and Keith Hutchinson came to honor a friend who committed suicide last year.

“I think it’s weird that as big a campus as we are (at Michigan Technological University), this isn’t something that gets talked about a lot,” Hutchinson said. “It’s impossible to find any statistics or anything about it, so it’s nice this is out there.”

From the Super 8 hotel, the group made its way to the Kestner Waterfront Park. Along the way, students from Calumet High School stood by signs painted by the CHS art class, waving to people along the way.

There Dial Help provided them with biodegradable dove balloons, on which the marchers wrote messages of encouragement.

The wind blew some of the balloons successfully into the canal. Others got tangled up, requiring the aid of others to send them on their way.

One person writing a message was Shannon Luoma, who had suffered from depression as a younger child. Now 15, she said, she had pulled out with the help of her church, her doctor and friends at school.

Luoma said the event was a good cause for the community.

“I just think that next year it’ll get bigger and bigger,” she said.