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Out of the Darkness Walker Spotlight Interview: Kenny Cruz

August 30, 2022 – 3 min read

By Kenny Cruz

Kenny Cruz standing in shallow water.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month. Since 2002, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out of the Darkness Walks have brought friends, neighbors, family members and colleagues together to walk through their communities to raise public awareness and funds to support suicide prevention. The following is one of a series of interviews conducted with Walkers about their own connection to the cause, and what the Out of the Darkness Walks mean to them.

Together, let’s walk.


Do you have a personal connection to suicide?

I am living proof that things can get better. Years ago, I was going to take my life. I have also had friends who have had suicidal thoughts and made attempts.

At the time I was suicidal, I believed that no one wanted me around and that no one would listen to me, because in my mind I was insignificant. I was afraid to talk about what I was going through because I feared being judged. Instead, I kept it inside and let it eat away at me. I even had a friend at the time who was struggling. I was there for them and supported them, but I never told them what I was going through, because I felt like it would be a burden for them and for their own recovery.

I can’t pinpoint exactly when things started turning around. I just remember waking up one day and thinking I didn’t want to live this way anymore. I wanted to take conscious steps to see if I could stop the suicidal thoughts from happening, or at least stop myself from following through on them.

Even then, I still didn’t reach out to those closest to me, because I still felt ashamed for having had these thoughts. I started to focus on running, because it was something I had loved before my bout with depression had taken hold. It helped me clear my head for a set number of miles, and gave me something I could control. It helped ease my mind.

I also looked up help online. One of the organizations I came across was the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The resources they offered were a huge help.

Thankfully, I began to get better. And I began to want to support others like myself.

What does it mean to you to walk together toward a world without suicide?

Participating in AFSP’s Out of the Darkness Walks means everything to me. It changed my life for the better, and helped give me the strength and courage to be more vocal about my personal experience.

My relationships with my family and friends became stronger because I was no longer keeping my experience a secret. I remember talking to a coworker one time, who asked me why I was always so positive. I told her it was because I had been given a second chance at life. It was a beautiful moment, because the second I said it out loud, I realized that is exactly what I had been given.

What do you think is special about the Out of the Darkness Walks?

The Walks are a place where people from all walks of life come together with a common goal: to help prevent suicide, and be there for anyone who has been affected by it.

When I signed up for my first Walk, I was nervous because I was still carrying the shame of what I had intended to do. I purposely signed up for the Walk to help me get over my fear of talking about my battle with depression and suicidal thoughts.

Talking with people at the Walk, sharing what I had been through and hearing their own experiences, changed my life for the better. The outpouring of support lifted a weight off me that I didn’t even know I had.

I have never felt more accepted in my life. It was such an eye-opening and wonderful experience. The Walks are something I hope anyone who has suffered loss or had a personal struggle or attempt can get to experience, just so they know that none of us have to go through it alone.