On Friday, September 18, hundreds of patrons gathered at Bismarck’s capitol grounds in the fight against suicide, one of America’s leading causes of death among every age group.
By AMY WOLFF | For The Record
On Friday, September 18, hundreds of patrons gathered at Bismarck’s capitol grounds in the fight against suicide, one of America’s leading causes of death among every age group. Raising over $34,000.00, this was the biggest turnout that Bismarck has seen for the annual Out of the Darkness Community Walk since it first began nine years ago.
The event opened with registration at 6:00 p.m. After registering, walkers were invited to decorate signs, stop by the stuffed animal or prayer tables, pick up beaded necklaces representing the way in which they were affected by suicide, write the names of their lost loved ones on buttons stating “I’m walking for…,” or purchase additional t-shirts, magnets or memory lanterns.
At 7:00 pm there were a number of speakers taking turns describing their stories of loss through suicide. Each person had a different heart-wrenching story to share. As they shared their stories a different colored balloon was released signifying their relationship to their lost loved one, one color for a parent, another for a child, yet another for a sibling and so on.
Once a single balloon was released for each speaker, a group of balloons of all colors was released showing that although the relationships may vary, everyone at this event was brought together for one singular cause, working towards a world without suicide.
With everyone’s emotions running high, the emcee began calling off the names of the groups present for the walk. As each group was called they would begin the walk, slowly following one after the other. Once all of the groups were called, individual walkers were asked to begin following as well. Bright colored shirts, glow necklaces and signs of all shapes, sizes and colors adorned the massive line of walkers as they made their way around the capitol building.
Upon their arrival back at the starting point, everyone was invited to enjoy a free barbecue style meal with beverages, while more speeches and songs rang out over the crowd. To finish the night, memory lanterns were lit and released in a beautiful display across the sky, remembering all who have been lost to suicide and giving hope to current survivors as well as those struggling with thoughts of suicide.
Hope is exactly what we need. Every day more people die by suicide and an even greater number attempt suicide, but with organizations and events such as this every day and every dollar is one step closer to reducing this number with more research, more education and a greater awareness of the problem at hand. It is a topic that desperately needs to be discussed so it can be better understood. Too many people are dying because of the fear associated with the stigma that suicide has surrounding it. The more people who are properly educated about suicide, the more who can help those struggling. Every life matters and every life saved is another victory.