Stories about Out of the Darkness Walks
To me, AFSP is the embodiment of effective leadership. Every volunteer can use their strengths and contribute in whatever capacity suits them. It’s a privilege to help Veterans and military members connect and engage openly about mental health.
We’ve Come So Far: Celebrating the 20th Annual Atlanta Out of the Darkness Community Walk for Suicide Prevention
AFSP's Out of the Darkness Walks raise awareness and much-needed funds to combat suicide, which has long been a leading cause of death. The Atlanta Community Walk holds a special place in my heart – especially this year, as it is Atlanta’s 20th annual event.
I want others to know that having difficult experiences with mental health does not mean that you are alone. I had always wanted to be a part of suicide prevention efforts, and in 2022 I walked for the first time in one of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out Of the Darkness Community Walks.
When I was 14 years old, I lost my mother, Sabrina Jones, to suicide. Up until my mom's death, I did not understand to what extent mental health could affect your everyday life, including my own.
In 2006, I lost my friend and eighth grade classmate Malaya to suicide. Just a year after Malaya died, AFSP brought the Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk to my hometown of New York City for the first time. This year, I’ll participate in my twentieth Overnight Walk. Here are some tips I’ve learned.
One Foot in Front of the Other: Training for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Overnight Walk in Memory of Our Son
On November 27, 2001, my wife Mary Anne and I were notified that our son Matthew had died by suicide. After months of trying desperately to find our way, we heard about a new event sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: the Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk.
How I Became a Chief Hope Hugger at The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out of the Darkness Walks
I first got involved with AFSP because of my own person struggles with mental health. As a volunteer I want to support everyone I can, and I discovered I could do that with something as simple as giving a hug!
Stigma surrounding suicide impedes the open discussion of challenges that contribute to suicidal thought and behavior, so those suffering often think they are alone. To my knowledge, the Out of the Darkness Walks are the only national, recurring community event with suicide prevention as a focus.
The Walks can feel like restorative meditation. They are an experience unlike any other. You’re surrounded by people who want to make sure you don’t feel alone. We are surrounded by understanding. That’s what it means to walk out of the darkness.
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 once wrote that The Overnight, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s flagship Out of the Darkness Walk event, was like coming home to a safe place. Here, those who have been affected by suicide can bring their grief and sorrow and joy and love.
It was ten days before Christmas of 2017 when my family lost my brother to suicide. I can still remember the moment my dad called to break the news. I was in disbelief. How could Jason – the brother who always seemed so happy, the proud father of three kids, the devoted husband to a loving wife – take his own life?
2017 was a tough year for me. My heart had been broken. I was plagued by a medical issue throughout a good portion of the year. The new job I thought was going to be lucrative wasn’t.
Growing up, my dad ended every conversation with the phrase, “Be good to yourself.” It was on his cellphone voicemail, our home phone’s voicemail, and he said it to people he had just met. My dad’s ever-present lesson in kindness and self-compassion set me on a mission to make this world a better place.
I walk because suicide prevention matters to me and isn’t spoken about enough. No one should suffer alone or in silence. I walk because my passion in life is to share my experiences in hopes that they can help someone else.
So often, mental health conditions can be muted by stigma, shame and misinformation. I participate in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Overnight Walk to challenge this silence.
An ode to AFSP's flagship fundraising event, The Overnight, in which thousands of Walkers who share a personal connection to AFSP's cause come together from across the country to walk 16+ miles with the goal to stop suicide.
I walk because AFSP is striving to make sure those who are struggling will no longer face roadblocks ahead, so the true focus will lie on the climb to recovery.
An ode to the out of darkness community walks and the joy of finding peace and healing in nature after loss.
An ode to AFSP's annual Overnight Out of Darkness walk
My family and I formed Team Nicole Lundy in September of 2010 to participate in the Indianapolis Out of the Darkness Walk, and it was the best thing we could have done. The walk started by simply giving us a way to honor Nicole, but it turned into so much more.
While most people we know celebrated Cinco de Mayo with margaritas and tableside guacamole, on May 5, 2021, my family and I marked the fourth anniversary of my brother Teddy’s suicide. This was the first year that I did not hide in my bed throughout the entirety of Teddy’s anniversary crying, enraged at all we’d lost.
The Overnight Virtual Experience will offer a variety of options for people to participate, enabling participants to engage their friends and followers by fundraising and raising awareness for what is currently the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.
On June 29, 2016, I lost my oldest child Richard to suicide at age 24. I was overwhelmed by a grief more powerful than I could have ever imagined. I felt like I was caught in a hurricane, disoriented and confused, with nowhere to shelter from the storm.
At the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, one of our challenges has been determining how to transform our Out of the Darkness Walks – which bring so many people together each year to raise awareness and funds in the fight against suicide – into meaningful experiences when we can’t gather in person.
Community is the heart of the Out of the Darkness Walks. Organized by teams of volunteers in 400 cities across the country, the Walks unite more than 300,000 people each year, showing the world that it’s important to talk about mental health and suicide.
My mom used to tell me she loved me nearly every day. We both said it any time we left the house, on every phone call, and after every fight, once tempers had cooled and the teen angst and single-mother stress died down.