By Amy Taylor
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. One person dies of suicide every eight hours in Virginia, according to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control, yet suicide is preventable. Each year, more than a quarter of a million of people from across the country come together in support of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) by walking in their local Out of the Darkness Community Walks. These walks support the AFSP’s mission to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide, and its bold goal to reduce the annual U.S. suicide rate 20 percent by the year 2025.
“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.”
Walk to Stop Suicide on Sept. 8
Join the 2019 Manassas Out of the Darkness Walk on Sept. 8 at the Harris Pavilion. Check-in time begins at 12:30 p.m. The opening ceremony is at 1:30 p.m. and the walk runs from 1:45 to 3:30 p.m.
You can help the AFSP with their mission by participating in the walk or donating. To do either, you can visit afsp.org/Manassas. Their fundraising goal for this walk is $50,000.
“Suicide touches one in five American families. We hope that by walking we will draw attention to this issue and keep other families from experiencing a suicide loss. Our ultimate goal is to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide,” said AFSP National Capital Area Chapter Board Chair Ali Walker.
Before the walk there will be a resources fair. People can explore local organizations and hear about upcoming events that raise awareness about mental illness and suicide, provide support for survivors of suicide loss and strengthen prevention efforts; remembrance & honor activities where you can bring a photo, special poem or quote for your loved one to be included in the remembrance book or quilt; a children’s art area; a raffle with lots of prizes; and much more!
The route for the walk is a paved, flat course that is roughly three miles long. This is a family-friendly event and walkers are welcome to bring strollers on the walk.
The Manassas Out of the Darkness Walk is one of more than 550 walks being held nationwide this year. 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.
For more information about the upcoming 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.