New York City Hosts National Walk For Suicide Prevention

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NEW YORK, N.Y.– The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) plans to hold its Out of the Darkness Overnight walk (www.TheOvernight.org) in New York City on June 4 and 5.  An estimated 2,000 people from across the U.S. are expected to participate in the 18-mile walk from sunset to sunrise, to raise money and awareness for suicide prevention.

“In addition to raising funds and awareness, The Overnight is also about forming a supportive community and advocating that more be done to prevent suicide,” said Robert Gebbia, executive director for AFSP. “The dedication and commitment of thousands of people walking through the night will bring us closer to reaching our goal of making suicide prevention a national priority.”

Suicide is a serious national health problem that cuts across all ages and demographics. Each year, close to one million people make a suicide attempt and more than 34,000 die by suicide in the U.S. alone.  It is the fourth leading cause of death among adults 18 to 65 and the third leading cause of death among teens and young adults.  Military personnel and veterans are also at increased risk.  A recent U.S. Army report confirmed a total of 343 suicides among active-duty, Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers in 2010, nearly one suicide per day.

“Suicide is a very complex issue and one that is often surrounded by stigma and misconceptions.  It is important for the public to know that more than 90 percent of people who die by suicide have an underlying psychiatric disorder, most often depression, at the time of their death,” said Dr. Paula Clayton, medical director for AFSP.  “Early recognition and vigorous treatment of depression are the best ways to prevent suicide.”

Many of The Overnight participants walk because they, a friend or family member suffers with a mental disorder, or have lost a loved one to suicide.  For example Hoboken, resident Jeannine Suwalski lost her father to suicide.

“This will be my third time participating in The Overnight walk in memory of my dad.  Ever since his death I have felt a responsibility to work towards ending the stigma surrounding suicide and mental illness as well as to help others who have been personally affected by suicide,” said Suwalski.

Registration is now open at www.TheOvernight.org or by calling 1-888-The-Overnight.  Since 2002, The Overnight has raised millions for suicide prevention research, educational initiatives, and programs to support those bereaved by suicide.  Funds raised from The Overnight will also help support distribution of AFSP’s new More Than Sad educational program to high schools across the country.  For more information, visit www.MoreThanSad.org.


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