Out of the Darkness Walk helps those affected by suicide

Published: Oct. 10, 2021 at 6:05 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - These beads represent a lost friend, a spouse, or a parent. Participants wore these beads as they walked through Thompson Park on Sunday for the annual Out of the Darkness Walk.

Jessica Countryman is wearing her beads for her boyfriend who died by suicide earlier this year. She says she came for the support.

“Just being around people that have been effected by it,” said Countryman.

She says she wasn’t planning on attending, but her friend convinced her to go.

“This is a great thing for us to do all together,” said Kristin Lamanteer.

About 100 people participated in the walk. An event to raise awareness for suicide prevention and to bring people together to support each other.

“We need community and connection for healing. We need community and connection to know that there’s hope out there and that it gets better,” said Karen Heisig, Associate Area Director of the Greater Central New York Chapter of the American Association for Suicide Prevention.

Heisig knows how difficult it is to lose someone to suicide. Her husband, a war veteran, died by suicide in 2006. These walks helped her during hard times.

“It really connected me with people that became my support system. I call them my AFSP family,” said Heisig.

Heisig is hoping to provide that same help to other people, like Countryman.

Other participants haven’t lost anyone to suicide. They just wanted to show their support and encourage people to seek help.

“Remember, you’re not alone. Talk to somebody so they can make you feel a little better,” said Ethan Grant.

People wrote inspirational messages on the pavement like “you are loved” and “never lose hope!” That’s the main message from Countryman.

“Just never lose hope. There’s always support and there’s always other options,” said Countryman.

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