Suicide prevention walk to be held in North Shelby

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is holding the Out of the Darkness Walk Nov. 8 to raise awareness of essential suicide prevention measures.

The 5K walk will be from 3-5 p.m. at Heardmont Park. Registration at the event will begin at 1:30 p.m.

Lisa Dunn, area director of the Alabama chapter of the AFSP, said the walk helps bring together those who have lost loved ones to suicide.

“Suicide is just so much more prevalent than most people think. Someone dies from suicide every 16 minutes in the United States. It claims more than 32,000 lives nationally each year,” Dunn said. “Many times, (this event) is the first time survivors can come together and meet other survivors who have also lost someone to suicide.”

This is the fourth year the Out of the Darkness Walk has been held locally. This year, organizers are trying something different by setting up a “shoe memorial,” which will consist of 586 pairs of shoes to represent the 586 Alabama deaths from suicide in 2007.

“We’re going to have a pair of shoes representing each of those lives lining the walk,” Dunn said.

Pictures of participants’ friends and loved ones lost to suicide will also be displayed in a “survivor tent” area. Walkers are encouraged to bring such photos.

Last year, close to 700 people took part in the walk. Dunn said organizers are hoping for 700 or more participants this year.

Registration is still available for the Out of the Darkness Walk. Those interested can pre-register online at Outofthedarkness.org or register at the event. There is no registration fee. The walk raises funds by collecting donations, Dunn said.

Any funds raised will go towards prevention education programs for state high schools and colleges, as well as educational videos to help health care professionals better recognize symptoms of depression in patients.

Heardmont Park is located on Highway 119. For more information about the Out of the Darkness Walk, visit Outofthedarkness.org.