NEW YORK, N.Y. – At sundown on June 4, nearly 2,000 people will participate in the Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk (www.TheOvernight.org), an 18-mile walk that ends the following morning at sunrise.
Many of the participants walk because they suffer, or have a friend or family member who suffers, with a mood disorder, or because they have lost someone they love to suicide.
Jeannine Suwalski from Hoboken is one such participant. She lost her father to suicide, and this will be her third time participating in the walk. “Ever since my dad’s death I have felt a responsibility to work towards ending the stigma surrounding suicide and mental illness as well as to help others like me who have been personally affected by suicide,” she said.
According to the Foundation, close to one million people will make a suicide attempt and more than 34,500 will die by suicide in the U.S. this year alone.
“Yes, suicide can be prevented,” said Robert Gebbia, executive director for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the organization that puts on the walk.
“The bottom line is that the best way to prevent suicide is through the early recognition and treatment of the mental illnesses, such as depression and substance abuse, which can lead to suicide. Unfortunately, stigma about mental illness and suicide and also about seeking help keeps people from getting the treatment they need. The Overnight is about eliminating that stigma,” continued Gebbia.
The event is expected to net more than $1 million. Funds raised from The Overnight walk will be used to finance scientific research, education and prevention programs, advocacy initiatives, and outreach programs directed toward those needing support after a suicide.
Those interested in participating in The Overnight can learn more and register by visiting www.TheOvernight.org or by calling 1-888-The-Overnight 1-888-843-6837. Registered walkers must raise a minimum of $1,000 each, must be older than 14 years old, and if younger than 18, be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
If you or someone you know is in crisis or feeling suicidal, help is available by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). To learn more about suicide and common warning signs and risk factors visit www.afsp.org.
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