By Amy Taylor
September is a big month to drive awareness for suicide prevention. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control, one person dies of suicide every eight hours in Virginia, yet suicide is preventable.
This year, World Suicide Prevention Day is on Sept. 10, National Suicide Prevention Week is from Sept. 8 through 14 and the entire month of September is National Suicide Prevention Month. All three of these are focused around a common goal.
“The overall goal is awareness. AFSP National does a really good job of rallying all chapters around the U.S. to get more reach and increase awareness about suicide prevention and education,” said Amanda Darvill, communications chair for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention National Capital Area Chapter.
Out of the Darkness Walks
This year, more than a quarter of a million people across the country will participate in the AFSP’s Out of the Darkness Community Walks. These walks kicked off at the beginning of National Suicide Prevention Month and will continue over the next several months with walks yet to take place in Fairfax on Oct. 5 and in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 2.
Nationally, all the walks combined are expected to raise millions of dollars with the help of more than 300,000 walkers. Last year, walks in the National Capital Area alone raised nearly $600,000 for suicide prevention efforts.
Destigmatizing Conversations About Suicide
One of the goals of these awareness events is to bring conversations about suicide into the public.
“We are doing an event with the D.C. United team on Sept. 22. There’s a big push to get awareness out there. We want to do different things and bring the message to as many people as possible. In addition to our prevention education, there are a lot of fun activities that will bring the topic out on the forefront. It’s great that the message and the topic is out there now more than ever,” said Darvill.
How You Can Help Prevent Suicide
If you would like to help the AFSP in their mission, there are many ways you can support them.
“Volunteering is one of the best ways to do it. Volunteering with AFSP local chapter, from being involved in a local event to being in a leadership role. Also, the free evidence-based suicide prevention training we hold is open to anyone,” Darvill said.
Another great way to support the cause is participating in the Out of the Darkness Walks, either as a walker or a volunteer. These walks raise funds that are critical to the organization meeting its bold goal of reducing the suicide rate by 20 percent by the year 2025.
“Anyone that’s been affected by suicide can come together and benefit from being a part of the organization [AFSP]. A lot of people may think it’s only for someone who has lost someone to suicide, or people who are involved in mental health. If anyone just wants to be a part of the cause, it’s a great way to make an impact and help save lives,” said Darvill.
For more information about the upcoming Out of the Darkness Walks and to find a walk near you, visit afsp.org/walk.
To get involved with the AFSP National Capital Area Chapter, visit afsp.org/NCAC.
Amy Taylor ([email protected]) is a freelance writer and editor. She earned her BLS in English from the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia.