Local supporters of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention are walking this fall to prevent suicide, increase national awareness about depression and suicide, and provide support for survivors of suicide loss.
"Many of us have been directly impacted by suicide and like all AFSP chapters we are making a great effort to bring discussion and education out into the open," said Bill Zito, chair of the Westchester chapter of AFSP. "There are countless stories of loved ones lost and the forever altered lives of the people they left behind."
Westchester will hold its 2013 Out of the Darkness Community Walk from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 6 at Saxon Woods Park & Pool in White Plains.
The Putnam County walk is Oct. 20. It starts at the Carmel Fire House at 11 a.m.
Rockland County held its walk Sept. 28. Check out the photo gallery with this article for photos from AFSP.
The Out of the Darkness Community Walks are 3-5 mile events taking place in hundreds of communities across the country. Proceeds go towards AFSP's vital research and education programs.
Suicide is a national health problem that takes an enormous toll on families, friends, co-workers, and communities, the AFSP points out.
"Carol Stiers Zito was 44 years old when she died in Harrison, NY on September 16, 2006," he wrote. "She was a remarkable woman who fought a courageous battle. She had been a decorated police officer for nearly twenty years. Most importantly, my wife was mother to our 5 year old daughter. Carol died alone and ashamed. After years of keeping many details quiet, I made the decision to join the fight and help bring some understanding to this very common yet often private struggle.
"This is still not the easiest subject to talk about but the tragic way Carol died is sadly a regular occurrence and what's just as tragic is the fact that survivors often mourn in silence and shame. This has got to change."
In the United States, a person dies by suicide every 13.7 minutes, claiming more than 38,000 lives each year. It is estimated that an attempt is made every minute, with close to one million people attempting suicide annually. Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. among adults 18-65, the second leading cause of death among teens and young adults, and individuals ages 65 and older account for 16 percent of all suicide deaths. This is a public health issue that does not discriminate by age, gender, ethnicity, or socio-economic status, the AFSP reports.
AFSP provides opportunities for survivors of suicide loss to get involved through a variety of educational, outreach, awareness, advocacy, and fundraising programs.
Out of the Darkness Walks take place throughout the year, across the country in communities and on campuses.