PARKERSBURG - Registration is available for the fifth annual Mid-Ohio Valley Out of Darkness Walk, a community event to raise funds for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
The walk will be from 9 a.m. to noon July 28 at City Park. Registration is available online at outofthedarkness.org.
Libby Powers, event organizer, said the walk is meant to raise awareness about the warning signs of suicide and offer support to family, friends and loved ones who lost someone to suicide.
"Suicide is the biggest epidemic in our country that nobody talks about," said Powers. "We want to let people know that mental health issues can be treated and support systems are available."
The family-friendly event will feature crafts, live entertainment from Adam Stinespring and a memory wall, where photos and memories of lost loved ones can be displayed. Butterflies will also be released.
"The walk will be very low key. We will all walk around the park as a group, or feel free to go at your own pace," said Powers. "There will be inspirational signs along the walking path for people to reflect on."
Suicide was the tenth leading cause of death in the United States in 2009, with 36,900 suicides annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nationally, the suicide rate increased 2.4 percent over 2008.
Warning signs of suicide include feelings of hopelessness and desperation, increased alcohol and drug use, impulsiveness and unnecessary risk-taking, threatening to commit suicide and unexpected rage or anger.
For those struggling with thoughts of suicide, help is available at local and national crisis lines. The Westbrook Health Center Crisis Line is 304-485-1725, and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-TALK.