“When you walk in the Out of the Darkness Walks, you join the effort with hundreds of thousands of people to raise awareness and funds that allow AFSP to invest in new research, create educational programs, advocate for public policy, and support survivors of suicide loss.” – American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Suicide, such an ugly word. It is the word that lives in my brain every minute of every hour. My son, Andrew, committed suicide on Dec. 20, 2011. It is the day my family was transformed into a broken, severely damaged unit.
Perhaps what will save us is the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). I had heard of its Out of the Darkness Walks, and for three years I could not bring myself to participate. This year, I knew I had the energy and courage to participate in the walk. I am hoping this will be a step towards healing for my family.
AFSP has Walks across the country, and its website explains all of their Walks: Community Walks, Campus Walks, and Overnight Walks. It also explains the registration and donation process.
This year, the Community Walk for San Antonio will be this Sunday, Nov. 8. The Walk will take place at the Nelson Wolff Stadium. Registration begins at 12:30 p.m. and the Walk begins at 1:30 to 4 p.m. Online registration, which can be found here, closes at noon on Friday. Walk donations are accepted until Dec. 31. The Walk is three miles long, however, there is a shorter route if someone chooses to partake. Bebe Rodriquez, the event coordinator, said this is the eighth year for San Antonio to participate in Out of the Darkness Walks. For any questions, Rodriguez can be reached at 210-218-7710 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AFSP is the leader for suicide prevention, funds research, creates educational programs, and supports those who lost a loved one to suicide. AFSP also is an advocate for public policy, and its website, www.afsp.org, is filled with an abundance of information and is an easy site to manipulate and understand. It contains information about everything in which the organization is involved. This organization is headquartered in New York and has 78 local chapters.
The San Antonio Chapter of AFSP was recognized this month by Dr. Mrudula Rao, president of the South Texas Chapter.
“San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley region are combined and the newly formed chapter is called the South Texas Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). The chapter is the 79th American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Chapter in the US,” he stated. “It is an asset for us to have a formal chapter that can be utilized by different organizations in our community. The newly formed chapter will provide guidance to people in need as it will inform them of various resources that they can explore for their mental health. In addition, one of the major goals of our chapter is that it provides support for suicide loss survivors as seen in the International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day.”
Suicide claims more lives than war, murder and natural disasters combined. Unfortunately, funds for suicide prevention are nowhere near the funding that other leading causes of death receive. This is why the Walks are so important. There have been more than 2,500,000 suicides each year from 2011 to 2013 according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. It is imperative that more funding be allocated for suicide prevention and awareness become prevalent.
Now that San Antonio is a recognized chapter, Dr. Rao explained the mission of the chapter.
“The South Texas Chapter’s mission is to promote awareness by educating various communities of the precautions to undertake to ensure positive mental health,” he stated. “We have the Education Committee in our Chapter that is designated to pursue the task to train parents, teachers and other various audiences. We will be reaching out to elementary and high schools, colleges, police departments and other various professional organizations. The Chapter will work on various fundraising to help with research that can improve mental health.”
We cannot be afraid to speak about suicide, and we must become knowledgeable about the causes, behavior, and prevention. We must learn to admit that suicide is prevalent. Those who are thinking about suicide or have attempted suicide need our help. We, who have lost a loved one, must learn about mental illness in order to understand the hardship our loved one was suffering from. This can be a part of our healing process that will help us to help others. Helping others is crucial because there are too many good and loving individuals commit suicide. AFSP has been able to set a goal to reduce the annual suicide rate by 20% by 2025 thanks to walkers from cities across the country. My family will start with a Community Walk. We are “Team Rodan” and our steps will be to honor Andrew.
*Top image: Supporters participate in a previous American Foundation for Suicide Prevention walk. Photo courtesy of AFSP’s Facebook page.