Walking for Suicide Awareness

    Suicide claims the lives of more than 30,000 Americans each year. It is the the fourth leading cause of death for people between 18 and 65. Families and friends affected by suicide are organizing a walk in Philadelphia this weekend to raise awareness.

    Suicide claims the lives of more than 30,000 Americans each year. It is the the fourth leading cause of death for people between 18 and 65. Families and friends affected by suicide are organizing a walk in Philadelphia this weekend to raise awareness.
    (Photo courtesy of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention)

    Listen:

    [audio:091002mssuicide.mp3]

    Images from the suicide awareness walk.  Click on image to view a slideshow.
    Images from the walkClick on image to view a slideshow.
    The “Out of the Darkness” walk is a way for people to remember loved ones who have taken their own lives, says Philadelphia attorney David Harrison. He lost his son to suicide in 2001:

    Harrison: They carry pictures of the people that they’re walking for, so it’s kind of an emotional event.

    Harrison says it’s also a way to break the isolation and silence that often surrounds suicide.

    Harrison:
    The message we want to get out is that suicide is not a dirty word. It’s the kind of thing people don’t talk about. When we lost our son suddenly all sorts of people came out of the woodwork, they felt that they could tell us about a relative that had committed suicide because we would be sympathetic, but up to that point, we had no idea.

    Organizers want to highlight the connection with mental illness. Pat Gainey is regional director for the American Foundation for the Prevention of Suicide which organized the walk:

    Gainey: We want to have a dialog about mental illness and mood disorders. Ninety percent of all people who die by suicide suffer from some kind of suicide, mostly depression at the time of their death. And we know that depression is among the most treatable of all mood disorders.

    Gainey says if people notice warning signs in loved ones, they should urge them to get help:

    Gainey: If someone is suffering from mental illness, they are going to act in a symptomatic way, and we should insist that that person see a mental health professional.

    The walk starts at ten in the morning at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and continues along West River Drive.

    More info:
    For more resources on suicide, please visit: http://www.afsp.org/
    For more information on the walk, visit: http://www.outofthedarkness.org/

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