BURLINGTON – A sunny Saturday morning in October drew a crowd to Burlington’s Battery Park, the starting point for an annual Out of the Darkness walk organized by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
The group of survivors of suicide loss and mental health advocates gathered to support AFSP’s work, share stories, and remember loved ones. “This Out of the Darkness event helps raise funds not only for innovative and exciting medical research that will enable us to find better ways to stop suicide and advocacy events that support important mental health legislation, making real change at the public policy level, but [also] educational intervention programs and resources for survivors of suicide loss in your own neighborhoods,” said AFSP Area Director Heather White.
Walkers wore custom-made T-shirts and beads in honor of those who died by suicide and held signs to promote mental health.
An AFSP volunteer, Bob Purvee, said that he and his family have attended the Out of the Darkness walks since the death of his son five years ago
“Some of it is just plain camaraderie, knowing that there are others like you have been affected by suicide,” he explained. “I don’t know if it’s possible to save very many lives or not, but if you only save one, you’ve accomplished something.”
AFSP organizes walks in more than 400 cities and towns across the country. Rutland, Newport, Brattleboro, and Montpelier have all also hosted Out of the Darkness events this year.