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Out of the Darkness DC Overnight Walk for Suicide Prevention

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Nearly every 14 minutes, someone in the US commits suicide. Every minute, someone in the US attempts to take their life.

 

Suicide alone is the fourth leading cause of death among adults aged 18-65, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). It’s also the second leading cause of death among high school and college students, and accounts for 16 percent of deaths among persons 65 and older.

 

To support research and raise awareness about suicide, the AFSP will hold their annual premier fundraising event, the Overnight Walk. This year, the campaign will take place on June 1-2, from sunrise to sunset, in the nation’s capital, Washington DC. An estimated 2,000 are expected to walk the 16-18 mi. trail this year.

 

The event is expected to draw in over $1 million dollars to help fund their scientific research, education and prevention programs, and outreach programs for those who have experienced loss from suicide.

 

Each participant must pledge to raise a minimum of $1,000 or $700 if a student or military personnel. The organization offers fundraising workshops and tips on their website, such as hosting potlucks or raffles with paid tickets.

 

In a press release organizers expressed hope that the event “will elevate a national conversation about suicide prevention” and “motivate leaders to take more action regarding this serious public health problem.”  They also highlighted concern for increased suicide among military personnel and veterans, which hit a record high in 2012 among active duty military members.

 

The AFSP is the leading national organization dedicated to educational programs, advocacy and outreach for suicide survivors and those suffering with mental disorders. Their mission is five-fold:

  • to conduct scientific research,
  • provide educational programs for professionals,
  • inform the public about mood disorders and suicide prevention,
  • foster legislation related to suicide and its prevention,
  • provide outreach programs to those who suffered losses from suicide, suicide survivors, and at-risk persons, engaging them in the organization’s work.

 

Some specific programs include survivor support groups, educational film on suicide prevention for college students, and an online program that allows people to anonymously connect to a suicide counselor (Interactive Screening Program), as well as psychosocial studies that identify risk factors that lead to suicide.

 

Funding has also helped AFSP shape state policy. In 2012, AFSP helped push a mandate in Alaska, South Carolina and Utah to require regular suicide prevention training for school workers. Also, as a result of AFSP’s work with Massachusetts’s officials, the state government increased its funding for suicide prevention.  

 

To learn more about the Washington DC event, go to www.theovernight.org. You can also call to learn more at 888-The-Overnight (888-843-6837).

 

Community and Campus Walks

If Washington DC is out of reach, other walks will be taking place from Oregon to Florida, throughout the year. Click here to find a local even near you. If you would like to organize your own event with AFSP, click here for further contact.

 

You can also sign up for or start a local college campus walk here.

 

Hotline

If you or a loved one is in need, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

 

Check out this video from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention promoting the 2013 Out of the Darkness Walk: