- A couple in their seventies walking in memory of their son
- A woman in her 30s walking in memory of her sister
- A mom and daughter walking in celebration of the daughter’s life
- A group of soldiers walking to honor the lives of the veterans that die by suicide daily
- A local resident in her 20s who, upon realizing our cause, opened her home to the strangers walking past offering drinks, food, shelter from the rains
- The countless men, women, children who were standing in the cold rain in the middle of the night to high-five, encourage, and thank everyone who passed
These were just a few of the people I encountered on the 2015 American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Overnight walk in Boston. I signed up for the walk because it seemed like it would be a fun experience for a good cause. I was clueless as to how I would be touched by those walking with us. To see the love pouring out from parents who have lost children, siblings who have lost a brother or sister, children who have lost parents, people who are missing family and friends was nothing short of inspiring and emotional.
The CDC estimates that every year in the United States about 1 million people attempt suicide. Mental illness often goes untreated because there is a stigma associated with the invisible disease. A main goal of AFSP is to open conversations and cut down this stigma. This was what I experienced in the Overnight walk last year. I saw people who felt alone get raised up and surrounded/supported by more than 2,000 new friends.
A week after the Boston walk, I found myself registering for the 2016 Overnight in New York City. If you would like to follow the journey our team is taking, please visit our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/StepsofHope2016/?fref=ts If you are able to support us financially (each participant has committed to raising $1,000), please visit our team at: http://theovernight.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.participant&participantID=16592
More importantly, if you have thoughts of self-harm, please know you are not alone. There are many people who love you, who want to help you. If you have lost someone and you aren’t sure what comes next, please visit afsp.org.
As I prepare for my walk, I do training walks, many of which are longer than an hour. During this time, I like to pray for anyone I can. If you’d like me to pray for you while I am walking, please let me know.