SOUTHERN UTAH — Organizers are planning two separate “Out of the Darkness” community walks — one in Washington County and one in Iron County — to help raise money and awareness for suicide prevention.
Both walks are scheduled to take place on Sept. 18, at essentially the same time. Although both are official events benefiting the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, they are being organized by separate groups.
Kira Pitts, who is teaming with Tiffany Bright as co-chairs of the St. George area walk, said this year’s event will be held at the Sullivan Virgin River Soccer Park in Washington City.
Registration begins at 8:30 a.m., Pitts said, with the opening ceremony scheduled for 9 a.m. After that, participants will walk around the park until around 1 p.m. or shortly thereafter.
This year marks a return to in-person participation, she added, noting that last year’s event was staged online only, due to COVID-19 concerns.
“This year, we’re going to stream it live on our Facebook page, so that’ll be an option for those that are unable to make it or don’t feel comfortable being there in person,” Pitts told St. George News.
In addition to display tables devoted to remembering loved ones lost to suicide, there will be a silent auction of donated items, with online bids also accepted.
“All of the money raised for that goes towards our fundraising goal for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention,” Pitts said.
Donations may also be made directly online, she added.
“We’re trying to keep everything as contactless as possible,” she said. “On the St. George walk page, there is a link on there to donate directly. So when they go to register, they can donate as well.”
There is no cost to register or participate, Pitts said, adding that even unregistered participants are welcome to join in the walk and other activities.
“It’s totally free. The only reason we have them register is so we can kind of gauge how many people we’re reaching each year.”
Additionally, behavioral and mental health specialists and other resources will be available on-site during the event, she said.
The organization’s stated goal is to reduce national suicide rates by at least 20% by 2025.
Meanwhile, Iron County’s walk is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. and last until 1 p.m. at downtown Cedar City’s Main Street Park.
“This year’s walk is really important to us because there have been so many suicides in our area this year,” organizer Bri Sheratt said. “Typically, we have about 12 (suicides) in a one-year span but since last August, we’ve had 17 in Iron County.”
“We’re hoping to get as many people out to the walk, just to get together and raise awareness for the issue,” Sherratt added. “Suicide is a preventable form of death, so we want to bring more resources to our area.”
According to the event’s webpage, “Every dollar you raise through the Out of the Darkness Walks allows AFSP to invest in life-saving research, education, advocacy, and support for those impacted by suicide.”
The statement also notes that even though the global COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the well-being of many individuals and families, “We also know increases in suicide are not a foregone conclusion if we act now to mitigate risk and support the mental health of our friends, families, and neighbors.”
As of Aug. 29, St. George’s walk had collectively raised nearly $17,000 with 125 participants, while Cedar City’s walk had raised approximately $5,500 with 101 participants. To register, join a team, or donate directly, visit either event’s webpage by clicking St. George or Cedar City.
Those who are experiencing a crisis may call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.
- What: St. George area’s “Out of the Darkness” walk for suicide prevention.
- When: Saturday, Sept. 18, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Registration starts at 8:30 a.m.
- Where: Sullivan Virgin River Soccer Park, 965 S. Washington Fields Road, Washington City.
- Additional information: Call Tiffany Bright at 435-862-5547, or visit the event’s website or Facebook event page.
- What: Cedar City area’s “Out of the Darkness” walk for suicide prevention.
- When: Saturday, Sept. 18, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Registration starts at 8 a.m.
- Where: Main Street Park, 200 N. Main, Cedar City.
- Additional information: Call Bri Sherratt at 435-590-2649, or visit the event’s website or Facebook event page.
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