Out of the Darkness Walk brings awareness to suicide, mental illness
Published 11:58 am Thursday, October 29, 2015
By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer
NORTH SHELBY—In 2013, 721 lives were lost to suicide in Alabama alone. Nationally, a suicide is attempted every minute. The Out of the Darkness Walk aims to bring awareness to mental illness and lessen these striking statistics.
This year marks the 10th edition of the Birmingham Out of the Darkness Walk. More than 1,700 walkers participated in the event last year and nearly $180,000 was raised for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
“We’ve been really fortunate in the past that people have seen the importance of giving money to (this) cause,” walk chair Marissa Grayson said.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention uses the money raised from the Out of the Darkness Walk to fund suicide prevention research, advocacy programs, education programs and awareness events.
“Suicide doesn’t discriminate, so many people have been (touched by suicide),” walk chair Marissa Grayson said. “The problem is, most people don’t like to talk about it because there is a stigma associated (with it).”
While fundraising is important, the Out of the Darkness Walk also aims to raise awareness and educate participants about mental illness and suicide. The walk route is lined with facts about mental illness and 721 shoes representing the lives lost to suicide in 2013.
The walk route is wheelchair and stroller accessible. There is no fee to participate in the walk, and there are no donation requirements.
“The goal is to reduce the stigma of mental illness, and money can’t be a barrier,” Grayson said.
The Out of the Darkness Walk creates a support network for those touched by suicide. There is a survivors’ area where people who have lost a loved one to suicide can write messages and display photos.
“Its showing we’re a support system for (survivors)… showing people they are not alone,” Grayson said. “I lost my dad to suicide. The first year I walked, I realized I was surrounded by people who understood.”
The Out of the Darkness Walk will be at Heardmont Park on Sunday, Nov. 1. Registration is open from 1 0.m. to 2:30 p.m., and the walk begins at 2:30 p.m.