AGAWAM — Suicide is the 10th-leading cause of death in the U.S., yet suicide is preventable. The Western Mass. Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) announced that its flagship event, the Greater Springfield Out of the Darkness Walk to Fight Suicide, has a new home, School Street Park in Agawam.
Roughly 1,000 people from throughout the Greater Springfield Area are expected to participate in this annual event at its new location on Saturday, Oct. 21 starting at 10 a.m. This fund-raising 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 by 20% by 2025.
“We walk to raise awareness about this important health issue. Suicide touches one in five American families. We hope that by walking, we save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide,” said Heather White, area director for AFSP in Western Mass. “School Street Park is the perfect location for this event, as the outdoor space will accommodate not only more walkers, but more community partners and vendors focused on suicide prevention. Elements like the covered pavilion for registration and stage for opening ceremonies makes the logistics of the day easier for the volunteers, while special touches like the park’s Garden of Angels and expanded space for activities of hope and healing will make the event more impactful and meaningful for the walkers.”
The Greater Springfield 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. With this walk last year, the Greater Springfield community raised almost $60,0000 for suicide awareness and prevention initiatives, and had nearly 800 participants.
“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.”
Added Agawam Mayor Richard Cohen, “I am happy that the Out of the Darkness Walk has moved its location to the town of Agawam. I welcome and support this event, and I wish the foundation much success in October to raise funds and awareness on this issue. I appreciate the hard work and dedication AFSP does in providing this area with resources to prevent suicide and to save lives.”
Planning committees for the 2017 Greater Springfield Out of the Darkness Walk are meeting now. If you would like to help organize this inspiring charitable event, sponsor the walk, or have a booth on site, contact Heather White at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
To join the fight against suicide, register to walk at School Street Park in Agawam on Oct. 21 by visiting www.afsp.org/greaterspringfieldma.