Senior student pioneers suicide walk for awareness, prevention

Hannah Kopek, Co Editor-in-Chief

After losing a close family friend to suicide, senior Kaden Dolbee took the initiative to bring awareness closer to home in the form of a community wide walk.
“I had done Out of the Darkness walks, but those are in Chicago and farther away, so I figured, why not bring a walk here,” Dolbee said.
In coalescence with administration and the National Honor Society chapters of Plainfield North, Plainfield South, and Plainfield East, the walk was hosted in the Wildcat Stadium on Sept. 14. The event was not only for students; members of the community were invited to join.
“I went on WJOL to talk about it,” Dolbee said. “We wanted to tell people that they aren’t alone, and that it’s okay not to be okay.”
The main idea for the event was to convey that anyone struggling is not alone.
“It’s extremely important [to talk about mental health] because people who suffer from mental health issues, especially depression or suicidal thinking, often suffer in silence because of the stigma that surround depression and anxiety. They might be worried about what people think about them, worried about being labeled as crazy,” Jaclyn Kwiatt, social worker, said. “They’re also worried that nothing can be done to help.”
Keynote speaker Amy Henderson, licensed psychologist, spoke about recognizing the symptoms of depression. She also spoke about her story as a survivor of her brother’s suicide.
“About 2/3 of people who commit suicide are depressed at the time of their death,” Henderson said. “There is one suicide for every 25 attempts. Please understand that attempts are not for attention, not in the way you might think. It’s actually a cry for help. People experiencing healthy minds do not think about suicide or attempt suicide. If someone is talking about suicide, please listen. We should all be listening, and we should all be aware about what is going on around us.”
Many resources exist within schools to assist students who may be experiencing depression or suicidal ideation.
“It’s really important to raise awareness of the type of resources that are out there,” Kwiatt said. “That when you do get help, it can change for the better, and that you don’t have to continue to live your life like this. It’s very, very possible to feel better.”
Over 700 people attended the walk, turning the stadium into a sea of yellow. Participants were encouraged to fill out a sign to hold while walking, as well as sign a banner. NHS members were also scattered around the stadium, throwing stress balls to people walking on the track and working concessions. Dolbee is one of two social campaign officers in NHS.
“We set aside two of our officer-ships just for social causes. I think it’s the most active voice of our officers,” Walker said. “Kaden is exemplifying how important it is to work with causes that mean so much to them. His success is because this is something he truly believes is a cause that should be brought up. Choosing something close to heart makes all the difference.”
The event did hit close to home for some students,
“Its important to be aware that other people may be struggling,” Josie Provencher, senior, said.
“If you don’t raise awareness, nothing will come about to change it.”

Hannah Kopek
Jordan McCully, junior, writes out an “I Walk For” sign before the walk begins.
Hannah Kopek