Last week, I was fortunate to participate in an Out of the Darkness Community Walk, one of the hundreds that are around the country every year by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. This is the third year that I’ve been able to participate and fundraise for the AFSP, and every year I end up becoming stronger and more inspired by this event as it continues to shine a spotlight on bringing together thousands of people in the local area who are affected in some way by suicide.
It’s always difficult for me to find the right word for how this event makes me feel, or how it went. In the end, I came away with three words that summed up this year’s experience: important, inspired, and hopeful. It’s not enough to say that suicide is an important topic, because that doesn’t give any indication for how many people suicide impacts (hint: it’s in the millions). Events like this give context to just how important this is. I leave inspired by the resiliency of the thousands of people walking with me, people who have suffered loss and continue to fight against suicide because they never want to see that it happens again. And that inspiration gives me hope.
I know I am not alone in my struggles with suicide, mental illness and things of that nature. But one of the worst things about this experience is that even know you objectively know that you are not alone, it’s a constant fight to remind yourself of that fact and understand what it means.
My heart broke so many times throughout the day as I heard stories and saw signs remembering and honoring so many people. But it’s also called the ‘Out of the Darkness’ Walk for a reason. At one time or another, we all have times of being in the darkness. But by continuing to fight, and by having others fight with us, we can break through to see the light. I’m never more simultaneously happy and sad than I am during this event, but I always ended the day full of hope and strength. The fight against suicide will go on, and I will continue to do everything I can to bring everyone I can – myself included – into the light.
There’s plenty of different ways to fight suicide, and it’s more important now than ever. To learn more, you can check out afsp.org