ST. GEORGE — Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, yet most awareness advocates believe it is something that can be prevented. In these efforts, volunteers from across Southern Utah are joining the quarter of a million people who are walking in towns across the country to draw attention to the fight for suicide prevention.
The annual Cedar City “Out of the Darkness Community Walk,” hosted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Utah chapter will be held Saturday at 8 a.m. at Bicentennial Park. The walk supports the foundation’s education and support programs and its goal to reduce the annual U.S. rate of suicide 20 percent by the year 2025.
“Suicide touches one in five American families. We hope that by walking we will draw attention to this issue and keep other families from experiencing a suicide loss. Our ultimate goal is to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide,” Katy Cox of the Utah chapter board of directors said in a press release.
The Out of the Darkness Community Walk is one of more than 550 overnight, community and campus walks being held nationwide this year. The walks are expected to unite more than 300,000 walkers and raise millions for suicide prevention efforts. This is the first year the chapter is hosting an walk in Cedar City.
Speakers at the Cedar walk will include Tina Hender and TJ Eisenhart, a local cycling professional and fan favorite of the Tour of Utah.
“These walks are about turning hope into action,” AFSP CEO Robert Gebbia said in the release. “The research has shown us how to fight suicide, and if we keep up the fight, the science is only going to get better and our culture will get smarter about mental health. With the efforts of our courageous volunteers, and a real investment from our nation’s leaders, we hope to significantly reduce the suicide rate in the United States.”
The Out of Darkness Walk in St. George is scheduled for Sept. 29 at Highland Park. Check-in is at 9 a.m. and the walk will take place from 10 a.m. to noon.
Online registration closes at noon the Friday before the walk. However, anyone who would like to participate can register in person at the walk from the time check-in begins until the walk starts. Registration is free and open to the public.