Pictured, Jamestown Out of the Darkness Walk Co-Chairs. From left to right: Jennifer Baker, Lorene Benjamin, and Wendy Switzer.
JAMESTOWN, N.Y.: –Community members from all over the Chautauqua region are expected to participate in the upcoming Out of the Darkness Community Walk in Jamestown on Saturday, October 13, 2018. The fundraising walk supports the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) by helping support local suicide prevention and awareness programs right here in Chautauqua County.
The Jamestown Out of the Darkness Community Walk will take place at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in downtown Jamestown, with registration beginning at 8:30 a.m. and the walk beginning at 10 a.m. To register, go to www.outofthedarkness.org and click on find an event to search and register for the Jamestown Out of the Darkness Community Walk.
The Jamestown walk is one of hundreds of Out of the Darkness Community Walks being held across all 50 states this fall. The walks are expected to unite more than a quarter of a million walkers nationally and raise more than $15 million for suicide prevention and research efforts.
“The Out of the Darkness AFSP suicide prevention walk has helped me immensely to heal after my father’s suicide,” said Wendy Switzer, Wall Co-Chair. “The most important factor to me personally is to spread awareness if sharing my story with others will help someone choose a different path. I want people to realize how much it affects the survivors.”
The goal for this year’s Jamestown walk is to raise $28,000. 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 the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) to invest in new research, create educational programs, advocate for public policy, and support survivors of suicide loss.
“There are numerous ways you can participate even if you are not able to attend in person,” said Annie Rosenthal, Public Relations Coordinator at Chautauqua Tapestry. “Donations can be made by going to www.outofthedarkness.org and clicking on find an event to search for the Jamestown walk. Those interested in becoming a sponsor of the event can contact Missy at MStolfi@afsp.org. We are also seeking baskets for the raffle and baked goods.”
The Community Alliance for Suicide Prevention, the local suicide awareness and prevention coalition within Chautauqua County, is organizing the walk with other local organizations including the WNY Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Chautauqua Tapestry, Chautauqua County Department of Mental Hygiene, and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. Free coffee coupons will be given to all walk attendees courtesy of the Labyrinth Press Co.
Many passionate community members are also involved in the organization and planning of the Jamestown walk.
“The walk is so important because so many people, who need this support and awareness in their life, learn of it once it’s too late,” said Jennifer Baker, Walk Co-Chair. “We want this topic to be talked about until it’s not a taboo thing and people who are struggling won’t be afraid to tell someone they need help.”
“Spreading awareness for suicide prevention has become an important part in my life as I have had family members die by suicide as well as friends that I’m extremely close to have lost family members to suicide,” said Lorene Benjamin, Walk Co-Chair. “ I want others to know what help that is available to them in the community. Never be afraid to ask for help.”
"The group is continually working on putting together trainings on topics of suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention that will be available to local organizations, agencies, schools and community members," said Victoria Patti, coordinator of the Community Alliance. "Our goal is to create a change in the way we currently look at suicide and eliminate the stigma surrounding the topic as a whole. We hope that the end result of increased education will be a reduction in the number of suicides in our community. The over-arching mission is to eliminate occurrences of suicide all together. Suicide has devastating effects on so many people. There needs to be better understanding regarding its causes and prevention. There is so much misinformation surrounding the topic of suicide and the underlying mental disorders that can sometimes lead to suicide. The Out of the Darkness Community Walk is aimed at raising awareness and eliminating that stigma."
“In 2018, we have seen increased attention across the nation to the topics of mental health and suicide, and it truly feels we are reaching a turning point in terms of how we view and talk about these crucial health issues in our communities,” said Missy Stolfi, Area Director of Western & Central New York, AFSP. “Walks such as this are essential in increasing the visibility of those who live with mental health conditions, and help reduce the dangers of stigma. We at AFSP are grateful for each member of our community who raises their voice through the Jamestown Out of the Darkness Walk in order to put a human face to mental health, and help save lives from suicide.”
About the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is the leading national not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy as well as to reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide. For more information please visit www.afsp.org.