CAMBRIA COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) —The Cambria County Suicide Prevention Task Force (CCSPTF) will be hosting their annual Out of the Darkness Walk this weekend.
The CCSPTF will be co-hosting the walk with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) – Western Pennsylvania on Saturday, September 16, from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Central Park in downtown Johnstown.
The mission of both organizations and the walk itself is simple: to save lives and to bring hope to those affected by suicide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death overall in the United States.
Last year, nearly 240 people on 36 teams participated in the Out of the Darkness Walk and raised more than $23,500, which has been used locally for education, training, and outreach programs. This year’s fundraising goal is $25,000.
“We always tell our attendees that by showing up for this event, they are sending the message that mental health is as real as physical health,” Chrystal James, CCSPTF co-chair and Out of the Darkness Walk chair said. “They are sending the message that reaching out for help is the strong thing to do. They are showing others that suicide, which is currently one of the top-10 leading causes of death in the U.S, can no longer be swept under the rug.”
One of the most important aspects of the walk is the healing connection it creates when people affected by suicide come together, whether it’s to remember a lost loved one or to share their own story of survival.
Attendees are encouraged to wear different color beads signifying their connection to the cause, which helps to create a visual representation that you are not alone.