‘Out of the Darkness Walk’ advocates for suicide victims and survivors

Health

AGAWAM, Mass. (WWLP) On Saturday, October 26, I had the honor of being a part of the Greater Springfield Out of the Darkness Walk in Agawam.

The walk is a fundraiser for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention that raises money to invest in research, and create educational programs, advocate for public policy and support survivors of suicide loss.

Survivors and family members of victims of suicide join hands during the opening ceremony

There were about 1,000 people who attended this year’s walk. The event brought people together, whether they’ve lost a loved one to suicide, been engaged in their own fight against suicide, or they were there supporting family and friends. Suicide is a sensitive issue, and it takes the lives of even the brightest people, putting the burden of support on those left behind.

Saturday’s walk hit its goal of raising $125,000 entirely on local donations. “Nathan’s Team” was the individual team to raise the most funds this year.

“Nathan’s Team” with the banner to start the Out of the Darkness Walk in Agawam

Unfortunately, suicide rates in the United States have been rising over the past decade. In 2017, more than 47,000 people committed suicide, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

In Massachusetts, suicide is the second-leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15-34. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, one person dies by suicide every 13 hours in our state.

The Out of the Darkness Walk, along with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, is trying to change this and de-stigmatize suicide.

If you are in crisis or need help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.

The crowd of people at the 2019 Out of the Darkness Walk in Agawam

After attending the Out of the Darkness Walk in Agawam, I could see first-hand the important work the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is doing. I only hope next year the suicide statistics begin to change, and we see less Americans taking their own lives.

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