Walk to raise suicide awarenessHelp and support are available to anyone considering suicide and to people who have experienced a loss from it. That’s the message of the second annual Out of the Darkness Community Walk for Suicide Prevention, set for Sept. 8 in Jamestown.
By: Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun
Help and support are available to anyone considering suicide and to people who have experienced a loss from it.
That’s the message of the second annual Out of the Darkness Community Walk for Suicide Prevention, set for Sept. 8 in Jamestown.
The walk will raise funds for local events and meetings as well as research, legislation and education nationwide.
“We continue to experience loss in our community,” said Margo Haut, vice chairman for the walk. “… one is too many.”
About 200 people participated in its inaugural year in 2011, raising $8,000. Half stays within the community for local events and support groups, and the rest goes to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, a national group with a North Dakota branch.
Michelle Entzminger, the chairman of the community walk, said she got involved because she has struggled with depression herself, because she lost a friend to suicide and because she works in the mental health field.
Haut became involved because of the losses of young people in the community.
Both women want to see suicide come “out of the darkness,” so families of the deceased aren’t ashamed or feel like they can’t get help.
Haut compared the issue to cancer, which she said was once an illness often hidden away and not spoken of in public. Through speaking openly about suicidal thoughts and the illnesses that cause them, they can be more readily accepted to be treated.
“Prevention is key,” Haut said.
The local Out of the Darkness group has five members, and the annual walk is their biggest event. The group also plans to do something for International Survivor Day on Nov. 17, and a suicide loss support group is also in the works, Entzminger said.
The goal for this year’s event is $12,000, which will be raised by participants and sponsors.
Registration starts at 9 a.m., with the walk beginning at 10 a.m., on Sept. 8. A balloon release is planned for 11:45 a.m.
A brief program will precede the walk, and mental health professionals will be there, along with state Sen. Tim Mathern, D-Fargo, who will speak about legislation regarding suicide and preventing it.
Mary Weiler, president of the North Dakota AFSP, will speak, and Gavin Kutz — better known as radio personality Mark McKenzie — will emcee the event.
Events are near the Sertoma Shelter at McElroy Park, and all are invited to participate in any part of the event.
The walk itself involves making the one-mile circuit of the park three times.
“(The event) helps people open up about it,” Entzminger said.
Many teams create their own t-shirts in memory of their loved ones, but anyone who raises $150 gets an Out of the Darkness shirt.
“Support community members who have lost people to suicide, help raise money to continue with prevention efforts,” Entzminger said, inviting people to attend the event.
To register, visit outofthedarkness.org and click on Stutsman County, or call 701-866-4552. Registrations will also be accepted the day of the walk.
Anyone considering suicide or having suicidal thoughts should call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453
or by email at email@example.com