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UNI Holds Suicide Prevention Walk

CEDAR FALL, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28)--The University of Northern Iowa held its first ever "Out of the Darkness" walk today.

The three mile campus walk brought students, faculty and the community out to talk about suicide prevention.

"I was with him when he died. And so I was able to see the turmoil somebody goes through when they are contemplating whether to take their life or not, said Christy Kessens.

She witnessed her fianc take his own life 13 years ago.

"He had a gun to his chest and for several hours I sat with him trying to persuade him not to do it."

All to no avail. It's a moment she says she'll never forget, moment that opened her eyes to the depth of his pain.

"Even though I still have questions, I was still able to see...see what led him to that point, Kessens said.

That's why the UNI professor is taking part in this walk.

It's a community effort aimed at teaching students the importance of stepping "out of the darkness" and speaking up.

"It's going to be a walk to advocate for prevention methods for suicide and be there for people who have had people in their families or loved ones pass away by suicide, said Paige Hoffman, Vice President of Phi Upsilon Omicron.

Hoffman says the walk is her honor society's professional project.

The group chose to focus on suicide because it's the second leading cause of death among college students.

"And this is just raising awareness like its okay to talk about it. People are here for you, she said.

And that's exactly why Christy is here. She hopes this movement encourages someone out there to ask for help.

"It can change your life and there is hope, she said.

More than 125 people took part in the out of the darkness walk.

Together they raised more than five thousand dollars for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
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