Out of the Darkness - Horizon Academy

Out of the Darkness

Aug 22, 2023

Out of the Darkness

Over the summer, our Horizon Academy community suffered a heartbreaking loss with the unexpected passing of Taiga Hughes.  Her death forces all of us to confront the horrible reality that suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for young people ages 10-19 in the United States.  

At Horizon Academy, we are strongly invested in promoting student mental health and partnering with families to bolster emotional wellness, in addition to academic skill building.  Taiga’s death is truly devastating for us, and we are committed to doing everything we can to honor her life and prevent any other future tragedies.  The American Federation for Suicide Prevention initiated the ‘Out of the Darkness’ movement in 2004, and community walks are now held nationwide in hundreds of cities across the country.   The Community Walks give people the courage to open up about their own connections to the cause and allow friends, family members, neighbors, and coworkers to walk side-by-side, supporting each other and in memory of those we’ve lost. “Losing someone to suicide or struggling with a mental illness can feel like no one understands what you are going through. Unlike other illnesses, it is difficult to look at someone and know their connection. The Out of the Darkness Walks are journeys of remembrance and events that unite a community – a time to acknowledge the ways in which suicide and mental illness have affected our lives and our loved ones. We all wear honor beads - each color shows our personal connection to the cause, and helps us identify others who understand our experience.”

Taiga’s family led a beautiful Celebration of Life for her in July and have created a vibrant virtual memorial at https://memorialsource.com/memorial/taiga. However, we know that many current and former students, families, and staff members are still struggling with how to begin to heal.  The next Out of the Darkness Community Walk for the Greater Kansas City area is planned for Saturday, October 7, 2023. Horizon Academy staff have created a “Team Taiga” to recognize the enormous impact of this remarkable human being. This walk will be held in Grandview, Missouri, beginning at noon, and all are welcome.

We hope that by participating as “Team Taiga”, we will again honor her memory and have a chance to support each other in processing this tragedy.  Although the American Federation for Suicide Prevention does actively raise funds to support research and suicide prevention, please know that joining Team Taiga is not meant to pressure anyone to fundraise. Taiga’s family has already graciously created a Horizon Academy scholarship in Taiga’s honor, which is a wonderful tribute to her enduring spirit.  In joining together to participate in the walk, we are simply joining together to say that those who have struggled or still struggle are loved, that we cannot let suicide be ignored, and that we commit to serving as a voice to #StopSuicide.

Suzanne Welde

Counselor and Interventionist

Horizon Academy