Entertainment & Events

Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk: Suicide Awareness

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May is mental health month, and there are a lot of ways to support mental health awareness throughout San Diego. On May 20th at sunset, thousands of people will gather at Ruocco Park to walk 18 miles through the night in support of the prevention and awareness of suicide. The overnight event is put on by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. AFSP is a voluntary health organization that gives those affected by suicide a nationwide community empowered by research, education and advocacy to take action against this leading cause of death.

Each year, the organization hosts the “Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk” in different U.S. cities. This year, the Overnight Walks will be held in San Diego and Washington, D.C. The money raised from the events will be used to fund research for suicide prevention, create and distribute education programs, advocate for public policy, and support survivors of suicide loss.

Considering the fact that suicide has been mentioned often in the media lately, the Overnight Walk is a timely event. With the buzz from the new Netflix series 13 Reasons Why and the highly publicized death of Aaron Hernandez by suicide, the public’s awareness is heightened when it comes to the issue of suicide lately. This event is a way to learn about the causes of suicide and work together toward prevention. The Overnight Walk is also a way to end the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Every year suicide claims more lives than war, murder, and natural disasters combined, and yet suicide prevention doesn’t get anywhere near the funding given to other leading causes of death.

Some statistics to put things in perspective:

  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.
  • Each year 44,000 Americans die by suicide.
  • For every suicide, 25 attempt.
  • Suicide costs the U.S. $51 billion annually.
  • Firearms account for almost 50% of suicides.

For facts & figures that depict California’s statistics, click here.

While these numbers help to create a view of the big picture and how suicide affects our country and our state, they do not do justice to the pain and suffering of those living with depression and mental illness, or those who have survived the loss of a loved one to suicide. The Overnight Walk provides a space for those affected by suicide to come together and share their stories of pain and healing. The event offers a sense of community as you walk from dusk to dawn to raise money and awareness in the fight against suicide.

After an inspiring Opening Ceremony at Ruocco Park, walkers will make their way onto the fully supported 18 mile route, walking side-by-side with others along the waterfront towards Petco Park. The route continues through downtown’s bustling streets while passing through the historic heart of San Diego, the Gaslamp Quarter. Walkers will head through Hillcrest, and then make their way south toward the waterfront where they will complete the walk with an inspirational closing ceremony.

In order to participate in the walk, you must register and pledge to raise $1,000. For those that can’t commit to such a large fundraising goal or a strenuous 18 mile walk on such short notice, there are other opportunities to support the cause. You can register as a volunteer for another local event, donate, show support at a cheering station along the route, or get involved in AFSP’s local chapter.

We hope that you will consider the resources that are available through AFSP and take some time to learn about suicide prevention and awareness.

**If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741**

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Lauren lives in OB with her French bulldog, Elvis Presley. She loves laughter and the great outdoors. You can contact her at lauren@sdentertainer.com.

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