Out of the Darkness Chicagoland Walk aims to prevent suicide and bring hope

People from all across the Chicago area came together on Saturday for the annual Out of the Darkness Chicagoland Walk, an event focused on preventing suicide and offering hope to those affected by it.

The walk takes place at Montrose Harbor and stands as the largest suicide prevention event in the country. Hundreds of similar events take place in cities across the US.

Since 2004, the walks have empowered individuals to share their own experiences and connections to the cause, creating a culture that is more open and understanding about mental health.

The statistics surrounding suicide are alarming. It ranks as one of the leading causes of death across all age groups. In 2021, it was the second leading cause of death for those aged 20-24, the third leading cause for those aged 10-19, and the fourth leading cause for those aged 35-44. In Illinois, it's the third leading cause of death for ages 10-34 and the sixth leading cause for ages 35-54.

Angela Cummings, the AFSP Illinois Area Executive Director, highlighted the widespread impact of suicide.

"We know that 54% of Americans have been affected by suicide in some way. With more than 48,000 suicide deaths in 2021, there is an average of 132 deaths from suicide each day in the U.S. The Chicagoland Walk brings together a community of those impacted by suicide to connect, provide support, share their stories, and work toward suicide prevention. It is a powerful day," Cummings said.

The goal of the walk this year was to raise $900,000 or more, which will be invested in critical research, education, advocacy, and support for those affected by suicide.

People can learn about the warning signs of suicide at afsp.org/signs.