Walking Out of the Darkness – A Walk for Suicide Awareness and Prevention

out-of-the-darkness-walk-logoAs September is Suicide Awareness month, I thought it was appropriate to “dust” off this blog I wrote two years ago, before I moved to Italy. At that time, I participated in the “Out of the Darkness” walk with both my stepdaughter, Ashley, and my friend and fellow attempt survivor, Renee. This walk is an annual event which takes place across the United States for the purpose of bringing about suicide prevention and awareness and the promotion of good mental health.  The day was beautiful – bright and sunny – the crowd was overwhelming…I suspect at least 4,500 (4,300 pre-registered and many more came to register that day). As we walked around the crowd, what looked like a festive event was actually surreal.  People donned ribbons of every color representing either the loss of a mother, father, sister, brother or the ribbon representing an attempt survivor.  Even dogs sported ribbons in support!

Depression IS Curable

As this event has exponentially risen in numbers over the years – it is one event that you don’t want rising numbers.  These numbers were apparent when we approached the wall of pictures representing suicide victims.  We stood there silently pondering the vast amount of young people who gave up on life, some as young as 15.  “What could be so wrong at 15?” you think.  The fact is suicide is the second leading cause of death between ages 15-24.   Depression is a disease and IS curable. My mission is to erase the stigma from this disease and empower others to understand there is hope and possibilities in life.  Sometimes all people really need is for someone to listen to them – to actually hear what was going on in their world at the moment with no interruptions.

A “Curtain” of Cranes

As we approached the “curtain” of colorful paper cranes, we were touched by the beauty and strength these birds portrayed. The crane is an ancient bird that stands for longevity and good fortune in Japanese, Chinese and Korean traditions. The legend of the crane is that folding 1,000 origami cranes represents a form of healing and hope during challenging times.  As we prepared to walk through the “curtain” of cranes, a chill went through my body.  At that moment, I was thankful I survived that difficult time in my life.  Unless you have walked in another’s shoes, then reserve your judgment.  I, too, at one time thought “how can anyone take their own life.” And then…it happened to me. Depression is a disease and, if left untreated or not treated properly, it alters the chemicals in your brain to such a degree it creates a feeling of hopelessness and despair that mere words cannot describe.

This walk brought people together for one common cause, to honor the loved ones lost to this disease and to prevent any more losses in the future. We learn to know identify signs of depression and ask direct questions, listen and seek professional help if need be.  By becoming educated, we can help to lessen the number of people lost to suicide.  

“You don’t drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying there.” 

― Edwin Louis Cole



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