FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and hundreds from the community gathered at Woodward Park on Saturday for the annual Out of the Darkness Walk.
This event was put on by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Central Valley chapter and brought hundreds of people to walk and fundraise to help stop suicide.
The walk also served as an opportunity to unify the community and acknowledge the ways suicide and mental health conditions affect the lives of loved ones.
Parents, like Gerald Walter whose son survived a suicide attempt, say it is important to look for the signs that could lead up to suicide.
“Our son here, he is a survivor, we were not aware of the signs until after the fact. My son now, he’s in a wheelchair, he can’t speak, he can’t swallow, we’ll be lucky to have two more years with him because of the attempted suicide. The signs are so important to witness and spot,” said Walter.
For Celeste Rodriguez, who came to the walk-in remembrance of her little brother Raymond, she says it is important to have those difficult conversations as they could very well save a life.
“If you see them acting out, like aggression they’re very angry or they start to not go to family events, talk to them you know, sit down and have a deep conversation, let’s have those difficult conversations… always make sure your people are okay,” Rodriguez expressed.
People were given beads depending on their situation, whether they had someone who they lost, thought of taking their own life, or currently have someone suffering.
Members were encouraged to try and raise $150 per group, money that goes to resources around the Central Valley.
Anyone can now dial 988 on any cell phone or visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website to get help and access to resources.