'Out of the Darkness Chicagoland Walk' brings community together for suicide prevention

ByRamona Meadors WLS logo
Thursday, October 12, 2023
'Out of the Darkness' walk to bring people together to save lives
A community of people from across the region will come together for the "Out of the Darkness Chicagoland Walk" for suicide prevention.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- On Oct.21, a community of people from across the region will come together for the "Out of the Darkness Chicagoland Walk," an annual event that helps prevent suicide as well as bring hope to those affected by suicide.

Sponsored by the Illinois Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) at Montrose Harbor from 9 a.m. to 1p.m. Oct. 21, the walk is the largest suicide prevention event in the country.

The Chicagoland Walk is one of hundreds held in cities throughout the country. Since 2004, these events give people the courage to open up about their own connections to the cause and provide a platform to create a culture that's smarter about mental health.

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for all ages. In 2021, suicide was the 2nd leading cause of death for ages 20-24, the 3rd leading cause of death for ages 10-19, and the 4th leading cause of death for ages 35-44. In Illinois, suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for ages 10-34 and 6th leading cause for ages 35-54.

"We know that 54% of Americans had been affected by suicide in some way," said Angela Cummings, AFSP Illinois Area Executive Director. "With more than 48,000 suicide deaths in 2021, there is an average of 132 deaths from suicide each day in the U.S. The Chicagoland Walk brings together a community of those impacted by suicide to connect, provide support, share their stories, and work toward suicide prevention. It is a powerful day."

Participants can sign up as individuals or as a team. AFSP-Illinois hopes to raise $900,000 or more this year, which is invested in life-saving research, education, advocacy, and support for those impacted by suicide.

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Nationally, nine in ten individuals who die by suicide were living with a diagnosable mental health condition at the time of their death, with these conditions often being undiagnosed or untreated. As a leading cause of death, suicide is a public health problem, but can be prevented through education and advocacy. Research shows that there is no single cause for suicide, and suicide risk increases when several health factors and life stressors converge to create an experience of hopelessness and despair. People can learn the warning signs at afsp.org/signs.

Joining in the efforts to combat the stigma around mental health, bring hope to those impacted by suicide, and prevent suicide are this year's regional sponsors TQL and Crowe LLP, and Change Maker sponsors John Burns, Compass Health Center, Toyota of Lincoln Park and Montrose Behavioral Health Hospital.

"Compass is thrilled to once again join forces with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in their mission to achieve a 20% reduction in suicide rates by 2025. Our heartfelt gratitude accompanies our commitment to participate this year, all while maintaining a singular focus: collective action to decrease the rate of suicide," said Dr. Claudia Welke, MD, Co-founder and Chief Medical Officer, Compass Health Center. "Over the past two decades, the incidence of suicide has surged by over 30%, sparing no demographic. However, it's crucial to recognize that suicide is preventable. Within Compass, we intimately understand the struggles faced by those grappling with thoughts of suicide. Our mission is to provide the essential life-saving interventions that countless individuals urgently require, facilitated through our comprehensive partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs."

AFSP and its Illinois Chapter are dedicated to improved research, education, and advocacy. Through its statewide network of volunteers, AFSP Illinois offers prevention education programs that emphasize the importance of research-proven self-care techniques as well as the value of engaging professional support.

If you are experiencing suicidal, substance use or other mental health crises please call or text the new three digit code at 988. You will reach a trained crisis counselor for free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also go to 988lifeline.org or dial the current toll free number 800-273-8255 [TALK].