Sixteen Meaningful Miles to Illuminate Mental Health Issues

Register to Walk at TheOvernight.org

05/14/2013

Sixteen Meaningful Miles to Illuminate Mental Health Issues

The first Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk was held in Washington, DC, in 2002.

On June 1, thousands of survivors of suicide loss, people who struggle with depression or suicidal behavior, mental health professionals and suicide prevention advocates will join together for the 2013 Out of the Darkness Overnight in Washington, DC.

The Overnight is like no other walk. Walkers, along with family, friends and hundreds of volunteers from across the country, will take a 16-mile journey from dusk until dawn to raise awareness about suicide, raise funds for research and programs, and to break the silence and stigma associated with suicide.

Previous Overnight events have been held in Boston, Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, DC—generating millions of dollars to support AFSP’s research, education and advocacy programs to prevent suicide, and programs to assist survivors of suicide loss.

“I’ll be walking for my younger sister, Stephanie, who died by suicide just over a year ago when she was 30 years old,” said Jennifer Couzin-Frankel, 37, of Philadelphia. ”She was the bravest person I’ve ever known, living a life as full as possible despite overwhelming odds stacked against her. I hope that being surrounded by others at the Overnight who have experienced similar heartbreaking losses will bring me comfort and strength.”

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The walks are far and above the best thing that has helped in my grieving as I get to talk to others without any reservation about my experience, and am able to listen to them. —Dennis Tackett, walker

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“I am walking to help raise awareness and will be joined by my wife, Geannie, and daughter, Amanda,” said Jon Darby, 51, of Perry Hall, Md. “Suicide always seemed to me to be the thing that happened to other people. Then came August 1997, when my youngest brother, Jabe, took his own life at the age of 23. In October 2012, my other brother, Joe, took his life at the age of 48, leaving behind two children. 

“When I met Geannie, I learned that she too had lost a sibling. Her older brother killed himself in 2004. Then in December 2011 Geannie’s sister, Becky, left this world by her own hand. Too many questions and no answers. Yet many people still whisper about suicide. The more we can talk about it and bring it into the open, the better chance we have of preventing this from happening to another person in despair or a family left behind.”

“I’m walking for my big sister, Jessica; my only sibling, would-have-been maid of honor, and best friend. She shaped my identity, both while she was alive, and after her suicide,” said Amy Liever, 26, of Philadelphia. “When her struggles with confidence and anorexia began in middle school, I still looked up to my big sis for guidance and inspiration, striving to mirror her straight A’s. In the wake of her death at 25, I felt lost without my big sis, and used family, friends and running to begin to heal. The fragility of life and inspiration to live fully are a core part of me from losing her.”

“My son, Jeff, took his life in October 2005. That day changed our lives,” said Dennis Tackett, 60, of Cary, N.C. “This will be my wife’s and my eighth year walking. We walk to the memory of Jeff and what his life was and could have been, and we walk to try to prevent other families from taking the journey we are on. The walks are far and above the best thing that has helped in my grieving as I get to talk to others without any reservation about my experience, and am able to listen to them. I still grieve after eight years and am thankful to all the people that have helped me through this path.”

The Out of the Darkness Overnight brings together survivors of suicide loss, people with depression and other mental disorders, mental health professionals and advocates walking side-by-side, arm-in-arm, hand-in-hand, all walking through the night to prevent loss of life from suicide. Net proceeds will benefit AFSP, to fundresearch, education and advocacy programs to prevent suicide, and programs to assist survivors of suicide loss.

For more information and to register for the 2013 Overnight in Washington, DC, go to TheOvernight.org, or call 1-888-THEOVERNIGHT (888-843-6837).