Suicide prevention group exceeds fundraising goal by about $22,000

More than $55,000 was raised when over 350 people participated in the Burlington Out of the Darkness Community Walk on Oct. 2, according to an American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) press release. The walk provided public awareness and raised funds to help support local suicide prevention and awareness programs for the Vermont chapter of AFSP. “In light of recent events, I feel now more than ever that an increase in education is vital,” sophomore and Vermont resident Molly Stockman said. “The suicide statistics in Vermont alone are pretty upsetting — I had no idea; it’s not something I usually thought about.” Out of the Darkness Community Walks are three to five mile walks taking place in more than 200 communities across the country this fall, according the AFSP website. The Burlington walk in Battery Park raised charitable funds exceeding the event’s goal of $30,000, as displayed on Burlington chapter of the website. “Suicide is a major health problem but, unlike other issues such as cancer and diabetes, there is a stigma associated with suicide, which often prevents people from seeking help,” President of AFSP’s Vermont chapter Linda Livendale said. “In Vermont alone, we have lost 511 lives to suicide in the past six years and in 2007, was the second leading cause of death of Vermont Youth ages 15-24,” she said. “This walk will help bring suicide out of the darkness.” The fundraising efforts were successful this year, surpassing all past efforts three fold. The participation level had increased as well, according to the press release. “The more people get involved the better; more funding will come in and the ability to educate the public will become more viable,” Livendale said. “Public awareness is as important as the funds raised. Identifying signs of suicide is critical to the success of ending suicide in Vermont.” It is estimated that close to 1 million Americans make a suicide attempt, more than 33,000 die by suicide and more than 20 million suffer from depression each year. Older Americans over the age of 65 account for 16 percent of all suicide deaths, according to the press release. Donations are still being accepted until Dec. 31 by going online to www.outofthedarkness.org then “find event” and “Vermont.” For any questions call 802-272-6564.