Out of the Darkness Walk takes steps to prevent suicide

Westport Out of the Darkness Walk will be held Sunday, Oct. 22, at Sherwood Island State Park.

Westport Out of the Darkness Walk will be held Sunday, Oct. 22, at Sherwood Island State Park.

In Connecticut, suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 10 to 34, a stat that organizers of the Westport Out of the Darkness Walk want to change.

The walk, sponsored by the Southern Connecticut chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), raises money and awareness to try to help reduce those numbers and save lives. The event will be held on Sunday, Oct. 22, at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport. Online registration at afsp.org/Westport begins at noon on Friday, Oct. 20, but participants may also register on-site the morning of the walk beginning at 11 a.m. The event will begin at 12:30 p.m. and conclude at 2 p.m. This fundraising walk supports the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s local and national education and advocacy programs and its bold goal to reduce the annual rate of suicide 20% by 2025.

“We walk to raise awareness about this important health issue. Suicide touches one in five American families. We hope that by walking we save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide,” said Michelle Peters, AFSP Connecticut’s area director.

The Westport Walk is part of a national Out of the Darkness walk movement, consisting of Community Walks, Campus Walks and two Overnight walks each year. In 2016, AFSP hosted more than 500 Out of the Darkness Walks spanning all 50 states, uniting more than 240,000 walkers and raising millions for suicide prevention research, education and advocacy.

Proceeds from the walks support programs such as Talk Saves Lives™, an educational presentation on how to recognize the risk factors and warning signs of suicide, and a new film entitled It’s Real: College Students and Mental Health that launched this spring. Through fundraising at the walks and other community and national events, AFSP has been able to fund 552 research grants totaling over $34 million dollars since 1987.

“These walks are about turning hope into action,” said AFSP CEO Robert Gebbia. “Suicide is a serious problem, but it’s a problem we can solve. The research has shown us how to fight suicide, and if we keep up the fight the science is only going to get better, our culture will get smarter about mental health, and we’ll be able to save more people from dying from depression and other mental health conditions.”

Local AFSP sponsors for the Westport Out of the Darkness Community Walk include H Salon of Fairfield, Mitchells Family of Stores, Silver Hill Hospital, Positive Directions- The Center for Prevention and Counseling, Westport Police Athletic League, The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Health, IHeart Media, The Hofstetter Baron Group of Wells Fargo Advisors, Powerstation Events, and the Intensity Club of Norwalk.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, and with a public policy office in Washington, D.C., AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. Learn more about AFSP in its latest annual report, and join the conversation on suicide prevention by following AFSP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

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