On Sept. 27, friends and supporters of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention will be on a mission to end what they relate to as "the darkness." Some of us may not be as familiar with the darkness, but to others it is a day to day reality, and constant struggle. Some of those that know the darkness all too well don't know how to escape its' grip, and frantically look for a way out.

According to statistics from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, a person in the United States dies by suicide every 12.9 minutes. An average of 40,000 Americans die by suicide each year. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, and the second leading cause of death among persons 10-24 years old.

According to event's Chairperson, Kristie Wilkin, this will be the first fundraising walk event for Tuscarawas and Carroll County, supporting the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. There will be over 360 Out of Darkness Community Walks taking place throughout the United States this fall. Wilkin is also co-facilitator for the Tuscarawas/Carroll County Survivor of Suicide Support, and said, "The funds will support vital research, education, advocacy, suicide prevention initiatives and programs to support those impacted by suicide. The goal is to reduce the annual rate of suicide by twenty percent by the year 2025."

The event will take place at Lee Stadium, Newcomerstown on Sunday, Sept. 27 beginning at 1 p.m. The walk registration will be 1:30 to 2 p.m., with the walk being in progress from 2

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p.m. While all participants must register, there is no registration fee, or other requirement to participate. The walk will take place rain or shine. It recommended that participants dress accordingly, and wear a good, comfortable pair of shoes. Kathleen Novachecck-Johnson of the Tuscarawas County YMCA will lead yoga and stretching before the walk begins.

Each participant is asked to set a minimum goal of $150, however, donations of any amount will be accepted, and no one will be turned away. Supporters can continue to donate through Dec. 31. Participants that raise $150 or more by the day of the walk will receive an Out of Darkness T-shirt at the registration. Participants that have not met the $150 goal are still welcome to walk, and join in the event, but would not be eligible for the T-shirt.

The special guest speaker, Eric Hipple, former quarterback for the Detroit Tigers, along with his daughter will address the Newcomerstown High School football team at 1:15 p.m. Hipple lost his 15-year old son to suicide several years ago and has struggled with depression. He currently works as Outreach Coordinator at the University of Michigan.

Belle Everett, Tuscarawas County commissioner, will welcome everyone at 2 p.m., then other guest speakers including a member from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and Newcomerstown High School senior, Jayde Bricker will be featured.

New Philadelphia's First United Methodist Church Pastor Jim Humphrey will bless the walk event. There will be a music disc jockey Daniel Liedtke from Mobile Jams Entertainment, LLC., a balloon launch, memory board display to honor survivors, and free refreshments. Special designated beads will be worn by the survivors, each color signifies a specific loss to that survivor. The color chart explaining the beads will be on display. White = loss of a child, Red = loss of a spouse or partner, Gold = loss of a parent, Orange = loss of a sibling, Purple = loss of a friend, Silver = loss of a first responder/military member, Green= personal struggle or past history of attempts, Blue = supports suicide prevention, Teal blue = signifies a support for a family member or friend that is struggling.

The event is anticipated to be a great way to also connect with others who are either survivors, or struggling. "Walk" committee member Melissa Betts, who lost her husband, David on July 22, 2013, said she feels the "Walk" event is a way she can honor her husband's memory by connecting with other survivors, and supporting each other.

"Walk" volunteer Emily Miller said she hopes to get the message to those who may be struggling that there are others out there, and you just need to reach out, don't hesitate. Miller said she lost a close family friend and says there was no earlier indications that her friend would soon be lost to suicide. Miller said the importance of having a better understanding of suicide and it's prevention is imperative. Todd Little, executive director of ACE (The Advocacy Choices & Empowerment), said the "Walk" is a way to help make a difference in reducing the suicide rates by educating each other, and encouraging struggling individuals to reach out, and to see they are not alone, seek help when they feel lost and hopeless.

The committee is encouraging the community to plan to attend this important mission event, your support matters.

For information, contact chairperson, Kristie Wilkin at 740-294-8496 or tkwilikin@sbcglobal.net; or co-chairperson, Vickie Bricker at 740-502-4616 or lvbricker@sbcglobal.net

The website page is: Tuscarawas /County Out of Darkness Walk. Another web source is: www.outofdarkness.org.