It will be the most comforting, nurturing stroll these folks take this year. Hundreds will traverse the Walkway Over the Hudson this fall during the Out of the Darkness Community Walk sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).
You’ll see teams of walkers sporting T shirts with the names and faces of loved ones lost to suicide. They will wear a variety of colored beads, each signifying a particular form of loss- white beads mean the loss of a child; orange, the loss of a sibling; gold, the loss of a parent. If you struggle with your own thoughts of suicide, there are green beads there for you.
Thomas Sherwood and his wife Marie will be walking with Team Joe. Thomas will wear orange in honor of his brother Joey who died five years ago. They will be joined by Joey’s widow Joy- she’ll be wearing red.
The mood will be, at times, surprisingly upbeat, because they are a gathering of kindred spirits – they understand what each other is going through far better than the outside world can know. Their mantra is “You’re not alone”. That’s where the nurturing and comforting come in.
But there will be somber reflection too as people step to the microphone to tell of their loss ” I am wearing white today because I lost my twin boys, both of them” Their words yank at your heart. Maybe these expressions are cathartic for them- I hope so.
But this event is also a fundraiser. The teams seek donations to help support the important work that the AFSP does.
They teach grade schoolers about mental health, continue research into what causes people to attempt suicide, and educate the general population about what behaviors to look for and how to get help for someone who exhibits those warning signs.
The AFSP mission is to decrease suicides 20% by 2025.
Thomas is raising funds now. If you would like to support him please go here: https://afsp.donordrive.com/participant/Thomas-Sherwood
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US.
Nearly 50,000 Americans die each year from suicide.
To learn more about AFSP’s good work visit https://afsp.org/
To learn more about the Out of the Darkness Dutchess/Ulster County Community Walk on Sept. 27th visit: http://sportingacause.com/event/dutchess-ulster-…s-community-walk/
To learn more about the Out of the Darkness Berkshire County Community Walk on Oct. 3rd visit: http://sportingacause.com/event/out-of-the-darkn…re-county-walk-2/.
Most of the people wore strands of brightly colored beads around their necks. There were white ones and red and gold and orange and silver and green and blue and teal. Each color held specific meaning.
All of these people, nearly 500 of them, had gathered to celebrate the lives of loved ones lost to suicide, and the beads represented the nature of the their loss. White designated the loss of a child, red meant the loss of a spouse, gold a parent , orange a sibling and so on. The beads color-coded their pain.
The turnout last Saturday at Monument Mountain High School was for Out of The Darkness Walk to Prevent Suicide, one of 400 such events held around the country by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) to support survivors of suicide and work to end it.
The Walk was billed as a celebration of the lives of those who are gone by those who remain. One of the speakers addressed the seeming conflict of joy amid such pain.
“How can we feel such profound gratitude and such profound sadness at the same time?” she asked. Everyone there seemed to know. There were tears, as people stood at the microphone and explained their color “I am wearing orange because I lost my brother- my best friend”.
“I wear silver today because I lost military- a couple of them”.
“I’m wearing white because I lost my twin sons” -both of them.
Bertha, one of the event organizers, wore nearly every color- father, child and other loved ones- all lost . And she wore green to represent her own struggles with suicide.
Yes there were tears but also smiles and hugs and laughter and camaraderie. And that of course was the answer to the question- that amid that profound sadness, they could feel gratitude because they all had the support of each other- they all understood.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.