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Walking and Talking About Suicide

On+Sept.+10%2C+participants+at+the+Annual+American+Foundation+for+Suicide+Prevention%E2%80%99s+Out+of+the+Darkness+Walk+hold+up+their+necklaces+to+assure+that+those+left+behind+do+not+feel+alone.
On Sept. 10, participants at the Annual American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out of the Darkness Walk hold up their necklaces to assure that those left behind do not feel alone.

On Sept. 10, participants at the Annual American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out of the Darkness Walk hold up their necklaces to assure that those left behind do not feel alone.

Photo credit: Devon Byers

Photo credit: Devon Byers

On Sept. 10, participants at the Annual American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out of the Darkness Walk hold up their necklaces to assure that those left behind do not feel alone.

By Aidan Montgomery, Sports Editor

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Over 300 participants gathered in the picnic area at Leadbetter Beach for the annual American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out of the Darkness Walk to promote suicide prevention on Sept. 10.

Each participant wore beaded necklaces with a color representing a personal loss of a loved one to suicide or a battle with mental health.

Anthony Rodriguez, the Chief of Operations for the Santa Barbara Response Network and Co-Chair of the Out of the Darkness Walk, led the bead ceremony.

“The purpose of the bead ceremony is for people to really look around and see that other people have lost a loved one, a brother, a sister, a child, and they are not by themselves,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez is a survivor of multiple suicide attempts and has lost many loved ones to suicide. He shared his story with the participants in the opening ceremony in hopes of bringing more awareness to suicide prevention.

“We always suffer in silence when it comes to suicide and the silence needs to be broken, and the stigma needs to be broken,” Rodriguez said. “We just need to work through it and get educated and bring more awareness and talk about it so it’s not a stigma. It’s not something to be embarrassed about.”

Jina Carvalho, the Communications Director for both the Glendon Association and the Santa Barbara Response Network, hoped the walk helped the participants and the community.

“I really want suicide and mental health to be taken out of the darkness and out of the stigma,” Carvalho said. “And also that they [the participants] walk away feeling less alone. You can share this with someone, it just takes that pain and makes it a little lighter for people.”

Dos Pueblos High School junior Ally Mintzer started the Wellness Connection Club at DP, uniting a community that discusses suicide and mental health, and to promote suicide prevention. Mintzer attended the walk and spoke of the importance of having a safe space to discuss these prevalent issues.

“A lot of people maybe don’t feel comfortable talking about depression or anxiety. They feel scared,” Mintzer said. “There is also such a stigma around mental health. People don’t want to talk about mental health because they think, ‘People will think I’m crazy.’”

Christina Lombard, the Program Manager for Casa Pacifica Program S.A.F.E.T.Y., wants teenagers to know they have resources.

“They’re not alone and it’s ok to ask for help,” Lombard said. “Maybe if one adult didn’t listen effectively in your school or in the community, or wasn’t as kind or empathetic, doesn’t mean that the next person will be that way.”

The Out of the Darkness Walk offered support and resources to the participants there and a total of $18,000 was raised for suicide prevention and awareness.

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Walking and Talking About Suicide