Suicide awareness walk raises record amount, nearly $13,000
FORT KENT, Maine — Supporters of the annual Out of the Darkness community walk surpassed this year’s fundraising goal by approximately $1,000, according to organizers, who estimated Saturday that the event raised close to $13,000 to fund suicide prevention programs.
More than 200 walkers gathered at Fort Kent’s Riverside Park, under threatening skies, which had brought forth rain showers earlier in the morning.
“The rain stopped just in time,” said event organizer Jen Malmborg. “It was perfect.”
Malborg said about a dozen teams took part, made up of walkers in support of specific loved ones who have been lost to suicide, while others simply walked as individuals, supporting the cause and their neighbors. A large contingent of University of Maine at Fort Kent nursing program students also marched.
Malmborg said she believes this was the largest group of walkers to have taken part in a Fort Kent walk to date.
The group walked around “the Mills,” escorted by the Fort Kent police department, before returning to the Lions Club Pavilion at the park. Following the walk, participants released balloons, in memory of loved ones.
Donations for the community walk are being taken through Dec. 31. More information may be found online at https://afsp.donordrive.com/.
Malmborg said that fundraising and awareness efforts have come a long way since the event began, with the first walks only generating a few hundred dollars each time.
Out of Darkness walks are organized in coordination with The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Support groups for those impacted by suicide are available in the St. John Valley, and funds raised through the Out of the Darkness walk help fund research, education and advocacy.
The Out of the Darkness Walk is held internationally each year to raise awareness about suicide and to highlight the public’s role in prevention efforts. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide almost always has multiple causes and many times these causes go unrecognized and untreated.
Some of the warning signs can include: talking about wanting to die and feeling hopeless, increasing use of alcohol or drugs, sleeping too much or too little, withdrawing or feeling isolated or displaying extreme mood swings. The more of these warning signs a person shows, the greater the risk for suicide. When these and other signs are identified, treatment can be initiated to reduce the risk for suicide.
Clinicians caution, though, that not everyone exhibits signs that can be identified. Suicide is a national health problem that takes an enormous toll on family, friends, co-workers, and the entire community.
Northern Maine Medical Center in Fort Kent offers a monthly support group the first Thursday of every month to provide a safe place for survivors to meet, share, and work together to heal. The sessions are free and open to the public.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the leader in the fight against suicide, reports that suicide is preventable. For more information about warning signs and treatment options, go to www.afsp.org or call NMMC at 207-834-3155.