Suicide prevention month ended with the Barrow County Out of the Darkness Walk raising $27,000. The event was held on Saturday, Sept. 28, at Winder-Barrow High School and on the lawn of the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

“This is the second largest walk in Georgia,” said Stuart Winborne, Georgia area director. “The Out of the Darkness Walk is a national organization, hosted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, that helps to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide.”

The organization conducts prevention education programs to educate the public about mood disorders and suicide prevention. It funds scientific research and promotes policies and legislation that impact suicide and prevention, and it provides programs and resources for survivors of suicide loss and people at risk and involves them in the work of the foundation. All proceeds from the event go to AFSP to help fund these causes.

The first annual walk was held at the high school because, “Barrow County has a higher percentage of deaths by suicide than in the state of Georgia,” said Cheryl Cloar, chairperson of Barrow County’s Out of the Darkness Walk. “There is an average of one 911 phone call a day. It is prevalent everywhere and Barrow County is not immune.”

Statistics show that Barrow County has an 18.5 percentage rate, compared to the 11.9 percent in the state of Georgia.

“Everyone in our community has been affected or touched through suicide in some way through the people they know,” said Cloar. “Everyone here has a story. I’m glad that people are speaking up and breaking the silence and letting people know we care.”

The one-mile loop took walkers around the church and high school and some participants wrote positive sayings and drew pictures in chalk on the sidewalks and hung signs around the school. Booths were also available offering information and support, and many participants pinned names of loved ones on the “memory wall.”

The 298 participants of the walk doubled Cloar’s expectations. She thanked those who participated and donated for this cause to help turn around the lives of those in Barrow County and bring them out of the darkness.

Donations are still being accepted on the organization’s website at https://afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.event&eventID=6429.

The national suicide hotline number is 800-273-8255. You can also text BRAVE to 741-741.

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