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Walk “Out of the Darkness”

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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 AFSPs 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.

AFSPs 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.

To learn more about the AFSP visit www.afsp.org. To register and learn more about the walks visit www.outofthedarkness.org.

Additional links: www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

24 Hour Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

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Lake Chabot is not a hike for the weary


Hiking is not only a healthy activity but an opportunity to experience the serene of local surroundings.

Lake Chabot's west shore in Castro Valley. Sean Jones/ Staff Photo

Lake Chabot is a man-made lake with many different trails for different skill levels. The trail that primarily follows the lake is about 9 miles long, which is not a small venture.

If you have 4 hours to spare it is well worth the effort.

Starting out on the East Shore you will be surrounded by many families and people walking dogs, but once you reach the 2 mile marker the trail will go from paved to dirt and the crowds will dissipate.

It can easily be said that the East shore is the easy side with balanced slopes, though there is one hill around 3.5 miles. When you reach this hill, it will determine whether or not you continue.

After that large hill you will be confronted by one more steep path and then you will be in the rolling hills being directed away from the lake.

If you make it past some of these more extreme hills you will be in for a great adventure.

Turtles and cranes in the marsh and the rustling of squirrels and small birds in the brush. You may even cross the path of a snake.

Once you reach the damn you are at the home stretch. On the west shore, fatigue may be setting in but also a sense of accomplishment is felt.

This walk/ hike is not for the unprepared, it is recommended that you bring a lot of water and a granola bar to keep yourself energized.

Also, you should not hike alone, since there is a lot of wildlife and spurs from the trail where others can join in and one moment you think your alone and suddenly someone is passing you.

To find out more about Lake Chabot and all it has to offer go to www.ebparks.org/parks/lake_chabot

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A Walk of Remembrance


Audio Slideshow by Arpi Nakashian and Sean Jones

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