The Out of the Darkness Walk aims to raise awareness and funds during the Saturday, Sept. 7 event at Memorial Park. Photo by Glenda Svendsen

County partners for suicide prevention walk

Lassen County has teamed up with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention for an ‘Out of the Darkness’ walk. AFSP funds research creates educational tools and outreach programs to educate communities about suicide. The related activities are designed to help those coping with suicide loss and provide tools to assist in recognizing danger signs and provide intervention for vulnerable individuals.

Each year, suicide claims more lives than war, murder, and natural disaster combined. Normalizing the topic and stimulating dialogue about suicide and mental health can contribute to saving lives.

Participation in the walk offers an opportunity for people to open up about their own struggles and loss. One aspect of the event is referred to as the Bead Ceremony. Beaded necklaces in an array of colors identify the aspect of suicide a walk participant is facing.

Wearing red beads would signify a person is the partner or spouse of a suicide victim. Orange indicates the loss of a sibling and gold stands for the loss of a parent. There are nine colors symbolizing the ways in which an individual has been affected by suicide. For those who have not suffered a personal loss blue shows support for suicide prevention.

Wearing the beads can create personal connections and an opportunity to share with others about the impact suicide has had on the lives of survivors. Those commonalities can nurture understanding and pave the way for healing.

Participants can walk individually, join a team or organize their own team. Teams can earn different levels of recognition gifts including T-shirts, duffel bags and jackets — even a pair of beats headphones — based on the amount each team has raised. Informational packets can be obtained at Lassen Aurora Health Network or Public Health.

Money raised will benefit our community directly and can be used where the need is greatest.

Patient Right’s Advocate Nicole Lamica explained, “A dedicated committee consisting of myself, Latoya Salas, Terra Avila, Jim Dandois, Courtney Clark and John Brooner is committed to addressing the need for intervention with the goal of bringing resources to our youth through programs, curriculum and education to aid in suicide prevention.”

There will be community resource tables providing information on grief support and related issues. Also, sponsors in our community are actively contributing to AFSP’s goal of reducing the annual suicide rate in our country by 20 percent before the year 2025.

The walk covers one mile and is planned along the same route as the Walk a Mile event, but in reverse. Check-in/registration begins at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, at Memorial Park. To register online:afsp.org/lassenco

For crisis support, use the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, (800) 273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.