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Out of the Darkness fundraising exceeds goal as donation opportunities remain open

Sac State exceeded its fundraising goal for the April 15 Out of the Darkness Virtual Campus Experience, bringing in more than $25,000 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s (AFSP) programs and research efforts.

Donations will be accepted through June 30 and can be made on Sac State’s AFSP website.

“The generosity and outpouring of support toward this event is beyond words,” said Lara Falkenstein, health educator with Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS). “If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we can no longer not talk about mental health and suicide prevention.

“Mental health is so important to our students and the campus community.”


This was Sacramento State’s 10th annual Out of the Darkness event, designated as a “Virtual Campus Experience” to conform with COVID-19 safety restrictions. It was live-streamed on Instagram @outofthedarknesscsus, in collaboration with @shcs, @sacstate and @sacstatestudent, and had more than 1,000 views. 

The video featuring University President Robert S. Nelsen and his wife, Jody, who lost their son and only child to suicide in 2001, has been watched more than 1,700 times and continues to attract viewers.

New this year was the “Share Your Light Challenge,” with students making short videos to inspire their fellow Hornets to find paths through difficult times and past suicidal thoughts, an important part of Out of the Darkness. 


Among their messages of self-care: Nathan said he plays guitar when he feels blue. Megan finds joy in family and friends. Aisha’s plants make her happy. Adele surrounds herself with photographs of people who mean the world to her. And Bayan’s fluffy, striped cat always makes her feel better. 

“I know this year hasn’t been easy, but I want you to remember that we are in it together. I hope you can find something to brighten your life,” Bayan said. 

The event’s theme, “Hornet Family: Apart but Not Alone,” acknowledged effects of the pandemic that caused the majority of classes to be delivered virtually while keeping most of the University community off campus for more than a year. Even so, 612 people registered for the virtual Out of the Darkness.


“This event was designed, launched, and developed by students,” Falkenstein said. “Students want to share the importance of this message of suicide prevention and reducing the stigma of mental health. Their passion shined though with each moment of the event.”

Out of the Darkness was presented by SHCS, Sac State’s Active Minds chapter, and the Greater Sacramento AFSP chapter

Sac State’s initial fundraising goal was $20,000, but donations exceeded $25,000 before April 15. The money goes to the AFSP for its national suicide-prevention awareness programs and to help the organization invest in new research, advocate for public policy, and support the survivors of suicide loss. 

AFSP aims to reduce the annual suicide rate by 20% in four years. 

“Of all the campus suicide-awareness and -prevention activities, Sacramento State’s Out of the Darkness Walk has been the premier event each year,” said Ron Lutz, director of Counseling Services. “The fact it continues to have such strong support as a virtual event is a real tribute to the Sac State family.” 

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About Dixie Reid

Dixie Reid has been a writer for Sac State since 2012 after decades as a newspaper reporter. A Texas native with the accent to prove it, Dixie is crazy about “dear friends, big dogs, good books, great food, day trips, baking cookies, California sunshine (and fog), and kind people.”

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