On Sept. 21, 2019, The American Foundation For Suicide Prevention hosted the Out of The Darkness Walk for suicide awareness here in Cedar City. The walk was at Main Street Park at 10 a.m. and open to the public free of charge.
The AFSP is a Nationwide organization. People gather in all 50 states to raise awareness and funds to gather new research, create educational community programs and support the loved ones of suicide loss.
Since participating in the walk is free, donors and sponsors are encouraged to contribute. Most of the money earned goes to the community the specific walk took place in, while a portion goes to additional awareness and prevention research.
“These walks are about turning hope into action,” said AFSP CEO Robert Gebbia. “The research has shown us how to fight suicide, and if we keep up the fight, the science is only going to get better and our culture will get smarter about mental health. With the efforts of our courageous volunteers, and a real investment from our nation’s leaders, we hope to significantly reduce the suicide rate in the United States.”
As a nation, AFSP predicts to decrease suicide rates in America by 20%. This can only happen through active participation in spreading awareness and knowledge about suicide and related topics.
On Saturday, over 500 Cedar locals participated in the walk.
“The walk is a way for people to come out and celebrate the memory of their loved one and be surrounded by people who have a similar loss,” said Katy Cox, a member of the Utah Board of AFSP.
Many walkers wore a name tag with the name of the loved one they lost to suicide, or carried pictures.
“[the goal is to] get the community involved, and raise awareness and break the stigma of suicide,” Cox said. “A lot of people don’t even want to say the word ‘suicide’ but the more we can talk about it, the more that people that are having suicidal idealation will get help and not feel that stigma or any shame attached to it.”
Those who participate in the Out of the Darkness Walk wear necklaces of different colors that correlate to a different option of a loved one. AFSP believes it to be extremely important to find those to relate with for this heartbreaking problem to be bearable.
The AFSP website also has a peer support system called “Healing Conversations” that can connect people to communicate online with others they relate with.
Classes for survivors of suicide loss are taught often in various schools in the Cedar City area. For more information on classes or what you can do to support visit AFSP’s website or call 435-590-9813.
Story by: Moriah Spainhower
Photo courtesy of: AFSP.org