PHILADELPHIA (May 5, 2014) – Thousands of people touched by suicide and mental disorders will participate in a 17-mile Overnight Walk in Philadelphia on Saturday, June 28, making a bold statement as they journey through the night to raise funds and awareness for suicide education and prevention. The Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk (The Overnight, TheOvernight.org) is the largest singular fundraiser presented by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP, AFSP.org). The Philadelphia walk is one of two Overnight Walks in 2014; AFSP will host a second walk in Seattle on June 14. With strong participation from AFSP’s Greater Philadelphia chapter, this is the first time The Overnight will take place in The City of Brotherly Love.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art, a beautiful and iconic backdrop, serves as the site for the Walk’s opening and closing ceremonies as participants hear stories of remembrance and triumph. Journeying through Boathouse Row, the Parkway Museums District, Friendship Gate to Independence Hall, the cobblestone streets of historic Philadelphia, and University City, passionate participants will come together as a united and courageous community to break the silence surrounding mental illness and suicide. Walkers will also encounter the “Finding The Light Within” mural, a project supported by AFSP’s Greater Philadelphia Chapter and designed to shine a light on youth suicide by providing a voice for those bereaved by suicide loss, suicide attempt survivors, and their loved ones. Learn more about the Philadelphia event including the route overview.
Making a Difference in Philadelphia
AFSP, through its local chapters, works to fund suicide education, prevention and advocacy efforts. The Greater Philadelphia Chapter, chartered in 1999, supports local efforts such as:
- Working to implement AFSP’s More Than Sad educational program into local schools to provide necessary education to students and faculty about factors that put youth at risk for suicide, in particular depression and other mental disorders.
- Organizing local fundraising events such as Out of the Darkness Community and Campus Walks
- Leading national and local government advocacy efforts.
- Providing resources for survivors of suicide loss including outreach and support programs.
- Turning the tide on suicide statistics by implement the Interactive Screening Program (ISP) in local colleges, industries, and organizations.
- Strengthening the community by sponsoring regional Mental Health First Aid Courses.
Suicide Is Preventable
A suicide attempt happens every minute of every day. A person dies by suicide about every 14 minutes in the United States making suicide the 10th leading cause of U.S. deaths, the fourth among 18 to 65 year old adults. Yet,more than 90 percent of people who take their own lives have at least one diagnosable and treatable mental illness such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and/or alcohol and substance abuse. Despite these statistics, suicide and mental illness remain hidden and shrouded in stigma. With better recognition and treatment many suicides can be prevented. The Overnight brings these issues into the spotlight, reducing the stigma and allowing the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to continue its life-saving work.
“While participants join The Overnight for various reasons – they’ve been diagnosed with a mental illness, lost a loved one to suicide, or just want to support the cause – our mission is unified: bring the issues of suicide and mental health out of the darkness and into the light,” said Robert Gebbia, CEO, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “Suicide is preventable and the more of us that participate this June the louder our voice will be in making it a national priority, so we can change the future of this serious public health problem.”
What to Expect at The Overnight
As the sun sets, the Overnight Walk begins with an inspirational Opening Ceremony including an emotional Honor Beads ceremony during which personal stories of connection to the cause are shared; participants wear Honor Beads of varying colors to represent their reason for walking. Participants connect and share along the route, cheered on by supporters and comforted to know that everyone understands. As the sun rises, so too do the participants come out of the darkness and into the light, met with thousands of candlelit luminaria each representing a life touched by suicide.
Participants can register individually or as part of a team. Each Walker agrees to raise at least $1,000 and is assigned to a supportive Coach. Those interested in participating can register as a Walker, become a Crew Member or Volunteer, or make a donation. The registration fee for Walkers and Crew is $50 with discounts and adjusted fundraising goals for college students and the military. AFSP organizes training walks in addition to providing helpful resources for both training and fundraising.
This year’s events in Seattle and Philadelphia, AFSP’s 13th and 14th, are poised to help raise major funding for suicide prevention research. More than 81 cents of every dollar AFSP receives is used to fund scientific research, education and prevention programs, awareness and advocacy initiatives, and outreach efforts. More than 20,000 people have participated in the 12 past Overnight Walks.
The Overnight is part of AFSP’s overall Out of the Darkness Walks initiative, which also includes hundreds of three- to five-mile Community Walks and Campus Walks nationwide each year. Visit www.afsp.org to learn more about The Overnight, prevention and education programs, relevant research, how to get involved, as well as information to understand, prevent and cope with suicide.
Watch how The Overnight offers hope, raises awareness, and unites thousands in this inspirational video. To learn more about and register for The Overnight, visit TheOvernight.org or call 888-The-Overnight (888-843-6837).
For the Media: Interviews, photos, and videos available in advance of the Overnight Walk. Opportunities will also be available for on-site interviews, photos, and videos during the Overnight Walk. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or requests.
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The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP, www.afsp.org) is the leading national not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy, and to reaching out to people with mental disorders and those impacted by suicide. To fully achieve its mission, AFSP engages in the following Five Core Strategies: Funds scientific research; Offers educational programs for professionals; Educates the public about mood disorders and suicide prevention; Promotes policies and legislation that impact suicide and prevention; Provides programs and resources for survivors of suicide loss and people at risk, and involves them in the work of the Foundation. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, AFSP has 64 local chapters with events nationwide. Review the Annual Report to learn more about AFSP’s life-saving work. Join the national conversation on suicide by following AFSP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.