Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States and the 14th leading cause of death in California, yet it can be prevented.
To draw attention to the fight for suicide prevention, walkers and volunteers from Santa Barbara County are joining the thousands of people who are gathering in towns across the nation for the annual Santa Barbara Out of the Darkness Community Walk Saturday, Oct. 14.
Hosted by the Greater Los Angeles and Central Coast Chapter, the event opens with 9 a.m. check-in for the 10 a.m. ceremony and walk at Goleta Beach Park in Goleta.
The community awareness and fundraising event supports the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s education, research, and survivor support programs.
In addition to raising awareness and funds to fight suicide, the walks give participants a chance to connect with others and know they are not alone, whether they walk in memory or in support of a loved one or in honor of their own mental health journey.
“Suicide touches one in five American families,” said Kelly Manning, AFSP special events manager, Greater Los Angeles and Central Coast Chapter. “We hope that by connecting with one another, we will draw attention to this issue and keep other families from experiencing a suicide loss.
“Our goal is to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide.”
Suzanne Grimmesey, PIO/chief of strategy and community engagement at the walk’s sponsor Santa Barbara County Department of Behavioral Wellness will emcee the event.
The walk will also feature community members, authors, and loss survivor speakers Harry and Jenny Bruell who will share their journey after the death of a loved one by suicide.
Special guest for the Santa Barbara Out of the Darkness Walk will be singer/songwriter Kate Vogel, who is an advocate for mental health. Vogel will share her story as an attempt survivor before performing her song “Reasons to Stay,” a viral success that has garnered more than 20 million streams.
The Santa Barbara-area walk is one of the hundreds of such events being held nationwide.
“This year we want people to join us in walking to create a world without suicide,” said Robert Gebbia, AFSP CEO. “By walking, you are helping AFSP make progress in prevention through research, advocacy, education and support to those affected by suicide.
“I’m in awe of our courageous volunteers who are lifting their voices to inform local and national leaders of the support needed to reduce suicide and save lives.”
The Santa Barbara Out of the Darkness Community Walk is also a space of healing and a place to have conversations about mental health.
In spring 2023, AFSP launched a campaign called Talk Away the Dark. The campaign PSA shows the impact of simple, direct dialogue about suicide and how to initiate those conversations to save lives.
To donate to the Santa Barbara Community Walk, visit www.afsp.org/santabarbara. To volunteer on Walk Day, locate the Volunteer at the Event link on the walk page www.afsp.org/santabarbara.