Community walk brings suicide awareness “Out of Darkness”

 Out of the Darkness charity walk raises $15,000 for suicide prevention

Will Guzman
Section Editor 

(Will Guzman/The Chaparral) Families putting leafs to honor those they have lost to suicide

The second annual Out of the Darkness community walk was held on March 17, to raise suicide awareness. The event gathered families and friends together in remembrance of those loss to suicide.

Many families brought shoes belonging to their loved ones who have succumbed to suicide, to symbolize the number of victims. “At our inaugural walk, we invited participants to bring a pair of shoes to represent someone they have lost to suicide,” said Jessica Van Der Stad, the community organizer at the event. “We displayed the number of shoes that represent the number of people who died in Riverside County during 2010.  The most recent statistic [available] is 198 [victims].”

Families also participated in the Community Memory Tree, wherein families gathered to make a leaf in honor of their loved one. There were also many activity booths to promote suicide awareness and prevention. Maggie Walker a participant expressed her thoughts on the event: “I think it’s important that we do events like this to spread the word and let people know that there is a suicide problem.”

The Out of the Darkness main event was a 5 kilometer walk with a dove release beforehand.  Palm Desert Mayor, Bob Spiegel, also made an appearance at the event, proclaiming the 3rd Saturday of March as Out of the Darkness Day.

“The 3rd Saturday of March will encourage community members to participate in activities that support suicide prevention,” Organizer Van Der Stad explained. “The funds raised today will go [toward starting] a chapter.” The funds will also help those impacted by suicide.

The Out of the Darkness walk raised over $15,000 in donations.

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