Out of the Darkness walk in Agawam aims to end suicide

Over 1,000 people participated in this annual event.

AGAWAM, Mass. (WWLP) – It’s a startling statistic: one in five families in the United States is affected by suicide.

An annual Out of the Darkness Walk held Saturday was hosted in Agawam for the first time. The event brought together hundreds of people who have lost loved ones to suicide.

Katy Collins-Foster of Wilbraham told 22News, “If we could save one person every day, it would just be a gift from God.” Collins-Foster’s nephew took his own life over three years ago. She was one of many who mourned a loved one at this year’s walk at School Street Park.

She said, “I just want to stop it and let people know that there’s so many people out there who care.”

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Annual walks like this one bring awareness to how serious the problem is.

This walk also supports the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, which helps inform people on mental illness and depression – the two often are linked with a negative stigma. That stigma is why family members say their loved ones did not speak up and seek help.

Out of the Darkness walk co-founder Neena Grover told 22News, “It is a preventable disease. 94 percent of people can be saved if they are intervened at the right time. So awareness, awareness, awareness.”

Grover also stressed the importance of knowing what other resources are out there, like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

This walk is one of more than 375 Out of the Darkness community walks being held nationwide this year. Money raised from this walk, and walks like it, allow the organization to invest in new research and create educational programs, as well as advocate for public policy.

Because of all the support these walks receive, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has also set a goal of reducing the annual suicide rate by 20 percent by the year 2025.

This year’s event was emceed by 22News anchor Ashley Afonso.