North Country Out of the Darkness Walk to Fight Suicide

Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, yet suicide can be prevented.  More than 350 people from throughout the North Country are expected to participate in the annual North Country Out of the Darkness Community Walk hosted by the Capital Region Chapter and the Essex County Suicide Prevention Coalition at 1:00 p.m., Sunday, September 30, at the Olympic Speed Skating Oval in Lake Placid.  This fundraising walk supports the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s local and national education and advocacy programs and its bold goal to reduce the annual rate of suicide 20 percent by 2025. “We walk to raise awareness about this important public health issue. Suicide touches one in five American families. We hope that by walking we save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide,” said Shelby Davis, member of the Essex County Suicide Prevention Coalition and AFSP Capital Region Board Member.  “There is help out there for those who live with a mental health condition and support for those who have lost a loved one to suicide.”  Speakers at the North Country Out of the Darkness Walk will include suicide loss survivors, with a special focus on First Responders and Veterans.  Local public officials are also expected to speak in honor of the 10-year anniversary.  Other activities include music, face-painting, memory board, Lifekeeper Memory Quilts, kayak raffle, basket raffles, honor beads, AFSP merchandise, light refreshments, team photographs, dove balloon release (bio-degradable) and therapy animals. Counselors and resource tables will be available for information about local organizations and upcoming events. To register as a walker, team captain, or virtual walker, visit www.afsp.org/northcountry.  To learn more about volunteering with the walk or local suicide prevention efforts, contact Shelby Davis at Shelby@mhainessex.org or 518-932-1241.  “We always welcome volunteers of any ability, whether you are able to help out for an hour, an afternoon, or on a long term basis,” said Shelby Davis, Walk Chairperson.  “As someone who works locally with suicide prevention and intervention efforts, every little bit helps.  And as a survivor of suicide loss, it makes a difference to know our efforts are benefiting our communities in the North Country.”

Gift certificates, baskets and services are being sought for basket raffles, in-kind donations of fruit, water, juice, and granola bars are being accepted for walkers; media partnerships and corporate sponsors are always welcome.  Each level of sponsorship comes with a variety of benefits and custom sponsor packages are available as well,” Davis also said. “These walks are about turning hope into action,” said AFSP CEO Robert Gebbia. “Suicide is a serious problem, but it’s a problem we can solve. The research has shown us how to fight suicide, and if we keep up the fight the science is only going to get better, our culture will get smarter about mental health, and we’ll be able to save more people from dying from depression and other mental health conditions.

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