Suicide and Mental Disorders Emerge "Out of the Darkness"

Thousands Unite to Walk Overnight on Both Coasts to Raise Awareness and Funds for Life-Saving Suicide Research and Prevention Programs at American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Annual Overnight Walk Events this June in Seattle and Philadelphia

05/01/2014

Thousands of people touched by suicide and mental disorders will participate in 17-mile Overnight Walks this June in Seattle (June 14-15) and Philadelphia (June 28-29), making a bold statement as they journey from dusk until dawn 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).

This year’s events, the organization’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.

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.”

Uniting on Both Coasts to Bring Suicide Out of the Darkness

Passionate participants from across the country will come together as a united and courageous community to break the silence and bring the issues of suicide and mental illness into the light.

Seattle (June 14-15, 2014): From the Seattle Center, to the Olympic Sculpture Park, Fremont, Downtown Seattle and vibrant Belltown, learn more about the Seattle event including the route overview. The Emerald City last hosted The Overnight in 2008, from which proceeds helped to establish the Washington State chapter.

Philadelphia (June 28-29, 2014): From the Philadelphia Museum of Art, through the Parkway Museums District, the cobblestone streets of historic Philadelphia, and University City, learn more about the Philadelphia event including the route overview. With strong participation from the Greater Philadelphia chapter, this is the first time The Overnight will take place in The City of Brotherly Love.

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.

Learn More

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).

Follow The Overnight on Facebook and Twitter (@OvernightWalk) using #OvernightWalk.

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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.