Annual Out Of The Darkness Walk Is Saturday

Walkers are pictured during a previous Out of the Darkness Walk outside of the Northwest Arena. Walkers wore shirts as members of teams to remember those who have taken their own lives. Balloons also were carried through the walk to honors those who have died as the result of suicide. P-J file photo

It’s a walk to remember and walk to connect with someone who may have a shared experience.

The Out of the Darkness Walk is set for Saturday at 11 a.m. at Jackson Taylor Park in the city, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). Registration is at 10 a.m.

According to Jennifer Baker, co-chairwoman, the event helps people connect with others who have lost someone to suicide. It is also a time where people who may have struggled with suicidal thoughts also be able to connect with others. This is the 12th year the walk has been held in the city.

Carri Raynor, co-chairwoman, like Baker, has lost a loved one to suicide.

“A loss to suicide is difficult to navigate,” Raynor said. “There are so many unanswered questions. This walk brings others together that are trying to navigate the loss of their loved one, others who struggle with their mental health and those who experience suicidal ideation. The Out of the Darkness Walk signifies that none of us are alone. There are other people out there going through the same things as us. It can be emotional, but many friendships have been made through the walk.”

The Out of the Darkness community walks banner hangs on Third Street in the city. P-J Photo by Michael Zabrodsky

Baker said the bike path at Jackson Taylor Park will be utilized.

“Nature is great for our mental health,” Raynor said.

Raynor added that last year, more than 550 Out of the Darkness Walks took place in communities and on campuses across the United States, attended by a quarter of a million dedicated people.

“Our goal is to spread awareness of what is currently the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., and let others know they are not alone. Please help us ensure that mental health is looked upon in equal importance to physical health, and continue to bring hope to those affected by suicide,” Raynor said.

According to afsp.org, “Walkers like us make a difference. Together we can change the conversation about mental health and put a stop to this tragic loss of life.”

The website also noted that there are colored honor beads where each color shows a personal connection to the cause, and helps identify others who understand the experience. The colors included are blue, warn to support the cause; purple, warn for the loss of a loved one; teal, warn because a loved one struggles; green, warn because of a personal struggle; orange, warn for the loss of a sibling; gold, warn for the loss of a parent; silver, warn for the loss of a first responder or military member; red, warn for the loss f a spouse or partner; white, warn for the loss of a child; and rainbow, warn to honor the LGBTQ community.

There is a Western New York AFSP Chapter and the work that it does focuses on eliminating the loss of life from suicide by delivering innovative prevention programs, educating the public about risk factors, and warning signs, raising funds for suicide research and programs, and reaching out to those individuals who have lost someone to suicide. As a part of AFSP’s growing nationwide network of chapters, people from all backgrounds, who want to prevent suicide in their communities, are brought together.

Families and friends who have lost someone to suicide, vulnerable individuals, mental health professionals, clergy, educators, students, community/business leaders, and many others help the WNY chapter, the website noted.

Counties included are Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Ontario, Orleans, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne, Wyoming and Yates.


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