Returning for the second year, the Farmington Out of Darkness Walk will be held Sept. 22 to promote advocacy for and awareness of those who have been impacted by suicide.
Event organizer Karen Strait said the event provides an opportunity for those impacted by suicide to educate the community, and for members of the community to be educated.
“It’s a walk to help with suicide prevention and awareness,” Strait said. “It’s a time we take to honor who’ve lost someone to suicide. We have a ceremony at the end, called ‘Fire to Heaven’ to close it out. The money we raise goes to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. It goes toward advocacy, research and the main thing we do of educating people.”
One direct source for the raised funds is for individuals to take a six-hour mental health course, which ordinarily costs about $300.
Last year was the Out of Darkness Walk’s first year in Farmington, and Strait said the event raised about $1,000 with approximately 100 walkers participating. This year, the event’s goal is to raise $5,000. As of Thursday, $1,080 of that goal had already been raised.
“We’re doing a lot better with sponsors this year,” Strait said. “We’re still trying to get people to form teams. We’d like to have a couple hundred walkers this year.”
Strait said suicide is the number 10 cause of death in the State of Missouri. From conversations with local law enforcement, she said attempted suicide is an almost daily occurrence in the area.
“The important thing is to get people educated,” she said. “They need to learn about depression and the signs to recognize in their friends and family. I saved a man from dying by suicide. It’s an awesome feeling—nerve-wracking, but afterward, it’s an awesome feeling.”
More than just having an impersonal knowledge of the subject of suicide, Strait said both she and her son are both survivors of suicide attempts, which gives them a personal interest in spreading awareness of the dangers and warning signs of depression and suicide.
“Often, when a member of a family dies by suicide, it’s repeated by another family member,” she said. “We have people who have lost two children because one of them died by suicide and the other then did the same.”
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s website, fundraising events like Out of the Darkness help the organization work toward its goal of reducing the annual suicide rate in the United States by 20 percent by the year 2025.
Out of the Darkness will be held in Engler Park in Farmington on Sept. 22, with registration beginning at 10 a.m. and the walk lasting from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Online pre-registration for the walk is open until noon on Sept. 21. There is no cost to register and anyone is welcome to register in-person on the day of the event.
For more information or to register for the walk, visit www.afsp.org/farmington.
In addition to the Sept. 22 Out of the Darkness Walk, a trivia night will be hosted by the event organizers later this month to further fund suicide prevention and awareness.
The trivia night is scheduled for Aug. 25 at the Farmington VFW Post, with doors opening at 6 p.m. and trivia beginning at 7 p.m. The cost of entry is $15 or $100 for a table of up to eight players. There will additionally be a 50/50 drawing and a cash bar available. The winning team will have their entry fees refunded and participants are asked to bring their own snacks.
To register for the trivia night, contact Rick Strait at email@example.com or 573-915-8911 and leave a message.
Jacob Scott is a reporter with the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3616 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.