'Out of the Darkness' Orlando walk aims to create community and prevent suicide

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click to enlarge 'Out of the Darkness' Orlando walk aims to aims to create community and prevent suicide
Photo courtesy American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
The Central Florida chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention will host their 13th annual Out of the Darkness Community Walks for suicide awareness on Saturday, Feb. 1.

The 2.6-mile scenic walk around Lake Baldwin will serve as a fundraiser fueled by Facebook backers, sponsors, and direct donations to AFSP. Over 83 cents of every dollar raised through the walk is invested towards suicide research, education, and advocacy for those affected by suicide. As of Jan. 26, the walk has raised $117,156 of its $175,000 goal.

As a community experience, AFSP aims to bring Central Florida residents together to give courage to those struggling through mental health concerns and stand unified with those affected by suicide.

AFSP says it is the third-fastest-growing peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, with annual revenues increasing by more than $10 million for the walk series, with a total of $18 million raised since 2018.

The check-in and registration time is 7:30 a.m. for the program that begins at 9 a.m. The gathering location is at Lake Baldwin Park, across from the Florida Institute of Technology building (which is located at 2420 Lakemont Ave.), near the intersection of Upper Park Road and S. Lakemont Ave.

"Our walks are truly a community builder. With every walk I attend, I hear stories of how the walk helped in the healing process, how they found a safe place where could talk about their own personal struggles or the struggles/death of a loved one, knowing they wouldn’t be judged," AFSP executive director Nicole Dolan said in an interview with Peer to Peer Forum.

AFSP's efforts to destigmatize mental illness and promote suicide prevention come amid worrying suicide trends in the United States. According to a Suicide Mortality Report by the National Center for Health Statistics, the age-adjusted suicide rate increased 33 percent over the period from 1999 to 2017, becoming the fourth leading cause of death for people ages 35 to 54. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for those aged 10-to-34.

AFSP's goal to reduce suicide rates in the United States by 20 percent in 2025. For more information about the walk, check out their event webpage.

If you or a loved one is contemplating suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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