Home Suicide prevention walk to be held at Gypsy Hill Park

Suicide prevention walk to be held at Gypsy Hill Park

Crystal Graham

american foundation for suicide preventionFor the second year, suicide prevention advocates and survivors will walk together to bring the topic of suicide out of the darkness.

The 2016 Greater Augusta Out of the Darkness Walk is scheduled for Saturday, October 8, at Gypsy Hill Park in Staunton at 10 a.m.

In 2015, the Staunton Out of the Darkness Walk registered 578 walkers and raised close to $40,000.

“Nearly 600 of us stood together to fight suicide and be the voice against the stigma around mental illness and getting help,” said Ryan Newcomb, regional director for DC, Maryland and Virginia for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

This year, the name was expanded to Greater Augusta to more accurately reflect the walkers who are taking part in the event. The goal was also raised to $50,000. Walkers from four states have registered to participate this year, and in Virginia, registrants are from Charlottesville, Dayton, Harrisonburg, Lexington, Rockingham, Staunton, Stuarts Draft, Waynesboro and points in between.

“We are off to a strong start,” said Kimberly Sours, walk coordinator and field advocate for AFSP. “To date, we have already registered almost 200 walkers and raised nearly $7,500.”

The walk benefits the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and is one of 13 community walks being held throughout Virginia. The purpose of the walk is to raise awareness and funding around the complex topic of suicide. The walk aims to promote research, educational programming and advocating for public policy.

Since the walk in 2015, local advocates have hosted a International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day, hosted a monthly suicide prevention round table, led a Mental Health Month awareness campaign and community health fair and worked to bring critical training to the area.

“Our goal is to make sure the dollars raised through the walk in Staunton are invested back in our community,” said Crystal Graham, co-chair of the 2016 walk. “Kim and I both have lost loved ones to suicide, and we both are working hard to make our community suicide safe through education and training opportunities.Together, we will save lives.”

Sponsors of the 2016 walk include Augusta Free Press, E&J’s Deli, First Bank & Trust Co., First Home Care, Harrisonburg Radio Group, Hometown Value Magazine, NAMI We Care Augusta, Reynolds Hamrick Funeral Homes, Valley Community Services Board, Voo Doo Underground, WKDW-900AM and WHSV-TV3.

For more information on the 2016 Greater Augusta Out of the Darkness Walk, contact Kim Sours at kimsourssurvivor@outlook.com or 540-471-0052. Registration is free but is required. To register online, visit www.afsp.org/walk

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.