A small crowd of people applauding an event in a park.

Willmar Out of the Darkness Walk

Willmar, your community cares!  What does it care about? It cares about suicide prevention and mental health awareness.

The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 1 million people die from suicide each year.

Join your neighbors in building awareness and highlighting suicide prevention strategies during the National Suicide Prevention Week, Sept 8-14, 2019.

We’ll support this vital community initiative by attending The Out of the Darkness Willmar Community Walk on Saturday, September 14th, at 11:00 am, at the Robbins Island Regional Park.

Registration starts at 10:00 am. You can register, donate, and get more details at the Out of the Darkness Willmar Community Walk page.

People holding hands walking across a lawnFunds raised go to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)

When you participate in the Out of the Darkness Walks, you join the effort with hundreds of thousands of people to raise awareness and funds for solutions. The  American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) uses all funds raised to invest in new research, create educational programs, advocate for public policy, and support survivors of suicide loss.

AFSP was established in 1987 with a mission to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide.

In the past 30 years, the AFSP has established chapters in all 50 states. They have provided ways for people who have lost loved ones to suicide to connect and form supportive relationships.

The AFSP has educated over 100 communities about suicide and prevention. Further, they also coach the media how to cover stories about suicide with compassion.

AFSP has also lobbied at all government levels for policies and legislation intending to lower the number of suicides each year.

September is suicide prevention awareness month
Suicide and mental health issues affect everyone

What do the following have in common:

  • children bullied in school,
  • farmers,
  • persons of the LGBTQ+ community,
  • veterans who faithfully served this country,
  • drug addicts,
  • celebrities,
  • elderly who can’t afford their medications?

They all ended their pain by committing suicide.

“Did [they] really want to die? No one commits suicide because they want to die. Then why do they do it? Because they want to stop the pain.” – Tiffanie Debartolo

Suicide rates have been rising in nearly every state. Many people in all demographics can experience self-harm and mental health issues.

Young, old, rich, poor, supported, or isolated, they have all have encountered an overwhelming loss of hope. And their loss of hope has affected the lives of friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors.

What Can You Do to Prevent Suicide?

You may feel sad or helpless when you think about suicide and all the people it affects. All of us have a role in suicide prevention.  You can have an impact in several unexpected ways.  There is quite a bit that you can do, such as:

  • Being aware of, and on the lookout for, the common risk factors for suicide:
    • Mental illness, alcoholism or drug abuse
    • Previous attempts, family history of suicide, or history of trauma or abuse
    • Terminal illness or chronic pain, a recent loss or stressful event
    • Isolation and loneliness
  •       Bring suicide prevention or depression awareness materials to your school. You can find guides to print or movies to purchase on these topics at AFSP and bring them to your school educators.
  •       Volunteer at one of the local AFSP chapters or other mental health awareness programs in your area.
  •       Donate to AFSP or another suicide prevention program
  •       Join one of the Community, Campus, or Overnight Walks through AFSP.

Young woman handing a basket of groceries to an elderly gentlemanOne more way you can help

Another way to prevent suicide is to stay connected with your friends, family, and community members.

After the walk, invite someone to Jake’s Pizza for some of the area’s best pizza or to The Goodness Coffee House for a sandwich and an organic tea. Invite someone you know that may be struggling to join you at a later date for one of the great productions at The Barn Theatre. Or invite them to something different like an escape room adventure at Escape Willmar.

Have you all heard the story about the individual who was on his way to commit suicide until someone smiled at him? It’s free. It’s simple. Just smile. You may never know the effect that little piece of shared joy will have on another individual.

Practice it on Sept 10, 2019 – World Suicide Prevention Day.

Three for the price of one

Join the Out of the Darkness Walk on Sept 14, and you can first contribute to helping prevent suicide and support those that have been touched by that tragic event.

Second, you can stay connected with friends and neighbors, which is an excellent way to ward off the loneliness that can cause depression. That depression which may ultimately lead to suicide.

Lastly, you can get some exercise. Did you know exercise releases endorphins, the feel-good hormone? Releasing those endorphins means this is an activity that can be used to fight off depression as well.

Online registration for the walk closes at noon on Friday, Sept 13. You can still register in person at the event, on Saturday, Sept 14, starting at 10:00 am. The walk will run from 11:00 am to 1:30 pm. Registration is free. Donations towards the event are accepted until December 31st.

If you, or anyone you know, is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also text “TALK” to 741741.

See you walking Out of the Darkness!!


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