This year the Bay Area will be hosting two AFSP (American Foundation of Suicide Prevention) “Out of the Darkness” community walks.
The first of the two will take place in San Francisco around Lake Merced Sunday, Sept. 26 at 9 a.m. The second will take place in Oakland around Lake Merritt Saturday, Oct. 16 at 6 a.m.
Walkers will begin the latter in the early morning darkness and continue as the sun rises, symbolizing newfound hope and understanding about suicide prevention.
The AFSP’s “Out of the Darkness” community walks bring thousands of people together to help raise money for national awareness about depression and suicide. Contributions go towards education, research and survivor services.
Unlike other walks, the AFSP walks do not require fundraising although it is appreciated. Registration is free and all participants must register.
Area Director Valerie Kovacovich says, “[The Walk] is all about educating … and getting the word out that this is an illness … and not a secret.” The “Out of the Darkness” walks are the largest events of its kind throughout the nation.
The AFSP is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to suicide prevention research, education, and the care of suicide survivors and survivors of suicide loss. AFSP believes greater public awareness will help reduce the 32,000+ annual deaths claimed by suicide.
Ninety percent of the lives cut short have a diagnosable mental disorder at the time of their death. It can be depression, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder or alcohol/substance abuse. Often times they are treatable psychiatric disorders that go unrecognized.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death among teens and young adults and accounts for 16 percent of deaths for individuals ages 65 and older. An estimated 1 million people attempt to commit suicide yearly and a person dies every 16 minutes due to suicide.
AFSP’s mission is to follow the Five Core Strategies: fund research, educate professionals, create public awareness, promote policies and legislations around suicide prevention, and provide programs for survivors of suicide loss.
AFSP is a leading supporter in suicide prevention research, contributing to neurobiological, genetic, and psychosocial research. The foundation also supports educational programs to better inform teachers, mental health professionals, journalists and even clergy.
Prevention projects by AFSP also aid in educating the public. AFSP reaches out to schools, workplaces, and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community to help reduce suicide deaths. Awareness initiatives through AFSP include films on teen depression and college student suicide prevention.
AFSP also promotes policies and legislation involving suicide and prevention. By alerting community leaders further suicide prevention can be recognized at national, state and local levels.
Last but not least, AFSP helps survivors of suicide loss heal through understanding and encouragement. Yearly the AFSP sponsors the National Survivor of Suicide Day with conferences, webcasts and the expansion of suicide survivor support groups.
Additional links: www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
24 Hour Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)