Saturday’s “Out of the Darkness” event at Warren County’s Ephram White Park will involve walking, but event organizer Katelyn Traughber is more interested in the talking that will take place.
A fundraiser for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the “Out of the Darkness” walk is an opportunity for those who have been touched by suicide or anyone interested in preventing further suicides to open up about an issue that is often kept quiet.
“My whole thing is I do this because I want to talk about this issue,” said Traughber, who lost a brother to suicide in 2005. “Coming to the walk gives you a voice without really having to say anything, but we’ve had so many people say they had a suicide in their family and hadn’t talked to anybody about it in years.”
Gathering with others who have been touched by suicide can be therapeutic, Traughber reasons. But the main focus of Saturday’s walk is to raise funds for the AFSP, which uses the money to create and distribute pamphlets, videos and other educational materials aimed at raising awareness about suicide and promoting strategies that can help prevent it.
The numbers are sobering. According to the AFSP website, suicide is the 10th-leading cause of death in the U.S., with more than 47,000 Americans dying by suicide in 2017. The country’s suicide rate of 14 people per 100,000 population is up from a rate of 10.5 people per 100,000 in 1999.
It’s a trend that Darrell Traughber, Katelyn’s father, describes as “an epidemic.”
“If that many people were dying of a disease, people would be up in arms and trying to do something about it,” Darrell Traughber said before last year’s walk.
The AFSP is trying to do something about the rising suicide rate through funding research and providing resources. The nonprofit’s goal is to not only halt the growth in the suicide rate but to reduce it by 20 percent by 2025.
AFSP-sponsored “Out of the Darkness” walks are held in more than 400 communities across the country in an effort to fund the work of suicide prevention.
Participation in Saturday’s walk at Ephram White Park is free, but teams and individuals made donations that amounted to more than $10,000 last year and a total of more than $60,000 over the first seven years the walks have been held locally.
Katelyn Traughber is expecting more than 200 walkers Saturday for an event that will include a visit from U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Bowling Green. The walk will begin at 10 a.m., but registration starts at 8:30 a.m.
She said participants can walk as little or as much as they would like.
“We have a one-mile loop at the park, but people can keep walking that loop if they want to go farther,” she said.
More information about AFSP and the “Out of the Darkness” events can be found at the afsp.org website.