“Out of the Darkness Walk” raises suicide awareness in Wheeling

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December 25 2021 12:00 am

WHEELING W.Va. (WTRF) The annual Walk to Fight Suicide took place Sunday at Wheeling Park. People gathered to show their support, and many walked in remembrance of a loved one.  

The purpose of this walk is to raise awareness and prevention. The “Out of the Darkness Walk” is hosted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. They hold eight walks in West Virginia throughout September and October.  

Cindy Stagg, West Virginia State Chapter Chair of American Foundation for Suicide Prevention says now more than ever we should take steps to safeguard our mental health and prevent suicide. 

It’s an ‘Out of the Darkness Walk’ and we call them that because we are trying to bring mental health, the stigma and talking about mental health out of the darkness and into the light.

Cindy Stagg, West Virginia State Chapter Chair of American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Many people wore names of loved ones on pins and walked in honor of them. Participates can also wear beaded necklaces, each color symbolizes something different. 

We use those as honor beads and each colors represents the person that we’ve lost or our own lived experience.

We bring everyone together and let them know there is people that love them, that care. That there are resources, help and support. That is what American Foundation is all about, saving lives and providing hope.

Cindy Stagg, West Virginia State Chapter Chair of American Foundation for Suicide Prevention  

Stagg says she has seen whole conversations without words being said. She says the beads allow people to connect, relate and show support to one another.  

Arlo Slack and his family participated in the walk in hope to raise awareness.

I think awareness of this is a really good thing. I think people who have not been affected need to know this is affecting other people and they need to look out and help those people.

My Father died and that’s affecting my currently and just as it affected me when it happened.

Arlo Slack, Walk Participant

At registration, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention had several tables filled with information, and resources. Stagg says together we can make a difference and these  community walks provide that support.  

Next weekend’s walk will take place in Charleston. For more information on how to participate, volunteer, or donate visit AFSP Out of the Darkness Community.

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