FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) The Alaska Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is hosting a virtual walk to raise awareness on Saturday, April 25th at 10am.
The event, called the Out of the Darkness Walk for Suicide Prevention, has for the last nine years been held as an in-person event at Griffin Park. This year’s decision to make the walk virtual was made to maintain physical distancing in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Access to the live event is available on Facebook.
Morgan Clay, board member with the Alaska Chapter of the AFSP, said that since she first became involved with the walk participation has increased from 70 to 700 individuals. “It’s a time when we can come together as a group of survivors of suicide loss and know that we’re not alone in our struggles,” she said.
She went on to say, “It's always this time of year that we start to see depression rates and suicide rates start to rise. And so I think it's a really important time for us, especially granted the circumstances of this global pandemic, for us to come together and start to really support each other, and I know that there's this term of social distancing ourselves from each other, but it’s really physical distance that we need to do, and not so much the social distancing.”
The event traditionally begins with an opening ceremony in which speakers relate their own experiences with suicide loss. This year the virtual event will include a video featuring nine speakers. The event will also have an “honor beads” ceremony, in which each color of honor bead represents a person’s specific relationship to someone who has committed suicide.
After the opening ceremony, participants can choose their own location to walk. “We will encourage our virtual walkers to hit their roads, whether it’s the trails around their house, whether it’s just around the neighborhood, to encourage people to get outside and get some fresh air, clear their mind, and find a little bit of hope and encouragement,” Clay said.
Clay hopes to see registration numbers grow as the event gets nearer. “With this pandemic, it’s amazing how many people are out of work, who are feeling hopeless, and we want people to know that there is light on the other side. And sharing those stories of people who have survived it already can be really inspirational,” she said.
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