Submitted by Out of the Darkness Walk – Olympia
Every Fall, communities across the country host the Out of the Darkness Walk, the largest fundraising and awareness event for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). Olympia has hosted this walk in the past and will host an Out of the Darkness Walk again this year. Eileen Bochsler is the chairperson for the walk this again this year, last year being her first time leading the event. “Nobody had come forward to organize it last year and, after my own life was touched by suicide, I felt very strongly that it should happen in Olympia. I knew there were others in my community that were also impacted by suicide”.
Eileen said she did not expect, in agreeing to chair this event, the overwhelming support from this community. “Community members quickly stepped forward to help plan the event and local businesses to support the Walk.” Businesses in the Olympia community never shy away from getting involved in charitable work and supporting local efforts. “We found the businesses that were most supportive were the local, home-grown businesses. I was blown away by the generosity I experienced.” Eileen said she and the planning committee for the Walk found local businesses are very generous in donating their time, services or funds to support the Walk.
We are all affected by suicide. It is a national health concern that does not discriminate across gender, ethnicity, age or socio-economic lines. It is estimated that there are one million attempts and more than 40,000 lives lost to suicide annually in the United States alone. Though the Olympia community has been touched by suicide, there are many resources available to help support those impacted by suicide. “That’s one of the great things about the Out of the Darkness Walk,” Eileen said. “It’s a place for us to showcase all the amazing resources available to our community members.”
Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, yet suicide is preventable. The Out of the Darkness Walk is one way to actively get involved in the fight against suicide. More than two hundred people from throughout Olympia and surrounding communities are expected to participate in the annual Olympia Out of the Darkness Community Walk at September 24 at Marathon Park in Olympia. The walk begins at 10:00 a.m. with registration opening at 9:00 a.m.
The Olympia Out of the Darkness Walk is one of more than 375 Out of the Darkness Community Walks being held nationwide this year. The walks are expected to unite more than 250,000 walkers and raise millions of dollars for suicide prevention efforts. Last year, the Olympia walk raised over $20,000 and had about 400 registered walkers. This fundraising walk supports the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s local and national education and advocacy programs and its bold goal to reduce the annual rate of suicide 20 percent by 2025.
“These walks are about turning hope into action,” said AFSP CEO Robert Gebbia. “Suicide is a serious problem, but it’s a problem we can solve. The research has shown us how to fight suicide, and if we keep up the fight, the science is only going to get better, our culture will get smarter about mental health and we’ll be able to save more people from dying from depression and other mental health conditions.” With continued efforts of AFSP and communities around the country, we may one day be able to have a world without suicide.
Remember, suicide is preventable. You can get involved by participating in the 2016 Olympia Out of the Darkness Community Walk on Saturday, September 24 at 10:00 a.m. at Marathon Park. For more information or to register, please go to www.outofthedarkness.org.