Norfolk Out of the Darkness Walk: I Walk to Be a Ray of Hope
I’ve been speaking publicly about surviving suicide for over a year now, and it’s still not something I am comfortable with. I am sad that depression took me to a place where my life didn’t feel worth living. I can still remember the numbness, and darkness I felt during my first attempt. And, a part of me feels that when I tell some people I am a suicide attempt survivor there is some pity, and in turn some guilt and shame in me.
On the flip side, speaking about what lead me to attempt suicide is liberating. I can see myself further removed from that pain, and I am proud of my recovery. I am also starting to discover that sharing my story has done more for others than I ever imagined. In a world where suicide is taboo to speak about people tell me my story lets them know they are not alone and has encouraged them to get help. That is why I speak up, and I am always seeking opportunities to spread a message of hope.
When I heard that a suicide prevention walk called “Out of the Darkness” was happening in Norfolk, I wanted to help. So I sent the organizer an email expecting to given a task of passing our fliers, spreading awareness or coming to a volunteer drive. Then Eric Peterson, a man who lost a teen daughter to suicide, asked if I would like to share my story at the walk. Eric had heard me speak at another suicide prevention conference for mental health professionals. I was honored and something he wrote in his response email confirmed to me once again that my story has value, and as hard as it is sometimes I must keep sharing.
“I am sad everyday that my daughter Sarah is not longer a part of my life here, but there is nothing I can do to change that. I am out here working to prevent suicide because I believe in you, and others who struggle. Everyday you stay alive brings meanings to this work in which I am involved in,” said Eric.
And Eric is right. He and his family are on the front lines of teaching people about depression and suicide prevention. I see him and his wife often at events promoting good mental health. They are trainers, advocates, facilitators, warriors for the cause. They remind me that suicide doesn't just affect one person. They are using their pain for the purpose of helping others. I am constantly in awe of their passion and drive.
I gladly accepted the opportunity to speak at the Norfolk Out of the Darkness Walk. And for days Eric's words stayed in my heart.
“Everyday you stay alive brings meaning to this work.” It reminded me of the value of life and not just any life, my life. Everyday I choose to live in spite of my circumstances, and my major depression is a victory. I want to be a voice for those living with a mental illness. I want to show people suffering in silence that they really are NOT alone and with the right resources, there is a way out of the darkness.
The Norfolk Out of the Darkness walk.is part of the e American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. On their website they state the mission of these walks is not just about raising funds which is definitely important, but also about showing the world that when people work together they can make big change.
I want to change the discussion around suicide and show people resources to help themselves or others. There are a number of Out of the Darkness walks in Hampton Roads. Suffolk, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and Newport News are all hosting walks. I’d love your support monetarily or by walking with me.
I will be speaking at the Norfolk walk on October 14 at 10:00 a.m. Suicide is the 10 leading cause of death in the United States, and AFSP is dedicated to reducing the suicide rate by 20% by 2025, a big part of that I believe is awareness. Out of the Darkness Walks are in all 50 states, to find one near you go to www.asfp.org