Walk intended to shine light on suicide prevention

Published 4:32 pm Wednesday, October 24, 2018

HOOVER – Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, yet suicide can be prevented.

Volunteers from Birmingham and surrounding areas are joining the quarter of a million people who are walking in towns across the United States to draw attention to the fight for suicide prevention.

The 13th annual Alabama Out of the Darkness Community Walk, hosted by the Alabama Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention will be held at 1 p.m. on Nov. 4 at Veterans Park off Valleydale Road in Hoover.

This walk supports the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s education and support programs and its bold goal to reduce the annual U.S. rate of suicide 20 percent by the year 2025.

“Suicide touches one in five American families. We hope that by walking we will draw attention to this issue and keep other families from experiencing a suicide loss. Our ultimate goal is to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide,” said Nicole Mullis, chairwoman of the 2018 Alabama Out of the Darkness Walk.

Check-in for the Walk will begin at 1 p.m. on Nov. 4, with opening ceremonies scheduled to start at 2:30 p.m. and the walk itself at 2:45 p.m. and then closing ceremonies.

The Alabama Out of the Darkness Community Walk is one of more than 550 Out of the Darkness Overnight, Community and Campus Walks being held nationwide this year. The walks are expected to unite more than 300,000 walkers and raise millions for suicide prevention efforts. Last year, these walks raised over $21 million for suicide prevention.

Last year, this local walk raised over $148,000 and had over 1,800 participants.

Speakers at the Alabama Out of the Darkness Walk will include board members of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Alabama Chapter, and will include a performance by local celebrity Casey Thrasher, and American Idol Season 14 candidate who will sing his new song “Survivor.”

The song is available for download on iTunes.

The event will also include food trucks, games and valuable information, according to Alabama Chapter Area Director Mary Catherine Dunham.

“There will be resources there for people if they need help or know someone who might,” Dunham said.

Registration for the Walk is still available at AFSP.org/Birmingham. Donations can be made at the site, too.

Dunham said Veterans Park is a central location for the Walk, but people from across the state will attend.

The event has a goal of 2,000 participants and $160,000.

Participation is free, and dogs are welcome.

“These walks are about turning hope into action,” said AFSP CEO Robert Gebbia. “The research has shown us how to fight suicide, and if we keep up the fight, the science is only going to get better and our culture will get smarter about mental health. With the efforts of our courageous volunteers, and a real investment from our nation’s leaders, we hope to significantly reduce the suicide rate in the United States.”

Local sponsors for the Alabama Out of the Darkness Walk include: Alsana, America’s First Federal Credit Union, Assurance Financial, BlueCross BlueShield of Alabama, Brookwood Baptist Health, Capstone Development Partners, Carr Allison, Fresh-Value, Lawhorn Counseling, New Directions, SecondHand Rose, Southwest Water Company, Taco Mama, and UAB Department of Psychiatry.

Sponsorships are still available. Anyone interested should email Dunham at mcdunham@afsp.org.