By Abigail Loop
The Central Texas chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention will hold its first Out of the Darkness Walk this weekend in Waco.
The walk, which will last from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, will take place at Brazos Park East.
Jennifer Warnick, the event coordinator, said the purpose of this walk is to bring awareness to mental illness and suicide.
“You don’t have to have lost someone to walk in this,” Warnick said. “If you’re suffering from depression or just want to support the cause, we’re encouraging everyone.”
Registration for the race is free and can be done online on the organization’s website, www.afsp.org, or on the day of the race.
Apart from the walk, Warnick said food and live music will also be available. A balloon release, where participants will write messages on balloons and release them into the sky, will also take place.
Warnick, who lost her mother to suicide, said this walk is something dear to her heart.
“People don’t get the help they need and we want to give people who are suffering the help that they need,” she said. “My mom made it my mission.”
Warnick said even if someone puts on a happy front, it does not mean he or she isn’t suffering from depression.
“When someone commits suicide, many people will wonder why since they seemed so cheerful,” she said. “There’s a stigma surrounding suicide. People are scared of it and don’t want to ask for help.”
According to the foundation’s website, in 2011, there were 39,518 suicides that were reported in the United States, making suicide the 10th-leading cause of death for Americans- someone in the U.S. died by suicide every 13.3 minutes.
Claire Idell, Texas area director for the foundation, said this walk is expected to increase the community’s awareness of suicide and depression as well as help support research done by the foundation.
“This walk is not only going to raise awareness but we also want to raise funds for research,” Idell said. “Donations can be given at the walk and we hope to have lots of participation.
Information about the walk can be found on the foundation’s website or by contacting Jennifer Warnick at 512-661-9335.