By Simone Boyd
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
The 11th annual Out of the Darkness walk attracted nearly 1,000 people in Baltimore on Oct. 6 in an attempt to raise awareness about suicide.
The 4K walk, which went from West Shore Park to Presidents Street, nearly met its goal of collecting $120,000 for suicide prevent, organizers said.
Kayleigh Schneider, a Towson University nursing student, set up a vendor booth that allowed people to take pictures and share her thoughts on #BaltimoreOOTD.
“If we continue to do events like this it’ll help bring forth knowledge and the stigmatism will hopefully go away,” Schneider said. “It’s going to be a long time before that happens.
This is a stepping stone and a building block.”
The event brought out people from all different walks of life. Participants were dressed up as Ghostbuster characters or Baltimore Ravens mega-fans.
“I think it’s important for me to support events like this and bring awareness to suicide,” said Larry Henson, who was dressed up in purple-and-black Ravens garb. “It’s an ongoing problem especially with a lot of youth so it’s important to me to support everybody.”
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention sponsors local chapters that host Out of the Darkness Community Walks throughout all 50 states. It offers a place to reflect, raise awareness, donate and support strangers, loved ones and individuals who have suffered with mental health issues.
The Ghostbusting cos-players, known as Charm City Ghostbusters, drew in quite the crowd all on their own but also told an equally important story about the loss of their friend David last year.
“We do this walk for David. He was a Baltimore native and we miss him a lot and there’s just so many people out there who struggle with suicide and feelings of loneliness,” said Charm City member Jessi Rizzi. “We feel like coming here especially in our get up can help make people smile and remember life is worth living.”
Charm City member Harry Carpenter, a veteran, recalls losing his fellow servicemen as well as his cousin and a few others to suicide. “We’re walking for all them and everybody else losses as well,” he said.
In 2017 alone there were 47,173 reported suicide deaths in the United States, and currently suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Videographer Robert Williams said he has personally never dealt with losing anyone to suicide but knows people who have. He said the most important thing is “sticking together and getting the word out there that it’s a serious thing and is very, very important.”
As time narrowed down to the start of the walk, teams gathered together in small localized circles. The biggest theme of the morning was be there for one another because at the end of the day we are all human.
On-looker Rosalie Hubbard, who came to show her support before taking off for the walk, said, “I want to let people know they’re not alone and if they need anything there’s a lot of resources out there for them… So, don’t give up on life because it’s very precious and you matter to all of us.”