Walkers take to the beach to fight suicide

Special to The Log
Team members at last year's Annual Emerald Coast Out of the Darkness Community Walk. SPECIAL TO THE LOG

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, yet suicide is preventable.

Supporters throughout Destin, Fort Walton Beach and nearby communities will participate in the fourth annual Emerald Coast Out of the Darkness Community Walk hosted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Florida Panhandle Chapter at 12:30 p.m. Nov. 5 at John Beasley Park on Okaloosa Island. This fundraising walk supports the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s local and national education and advocacy programs and its bold goal to reduce the annual rate of suicide 20 percent by 2025.

The event is free and open to the public. Online registration at AFSP.org/EmeraldCoast is encouraged, and day-of registration and check-in will begin at 11 a.m. with the Opening Ceremony at noon and the walk kicking off at 12:30 p.m. Food and snacks will be provided. Official AFSP T-shirts will be available for sale, as well as a raffle tickets with packages from several local businesses including an 11 foot BOTE Breeze inflatable paddle board.

“This was the first event of its kind in the area four years ago and now we are an official chapter expanding across the Panhandle,” said Donna Williamson, chapter chair. “We have raised over $46,000 over the last three years and hope to continue with the immense support we’ve felt in the community and help those in need.”

The Emerald Coast Out of the Darkness Walk is one of more than 375 Out of the Darkness Community Walks being held nationwide this year. The walks are expected to unite more than 250,000 walkers and raise millions for suicide prevention efforts.

“These walks are about turning hope into action,” said AFSP CEO Robert Gebbia. “Suicide is a serious problem, but it’s a problem we can solve. The research has shown us how to fight suicide, and if we keep up the fight the science is only going to get better, our culture will get smarter about mental health, and we’ll be able to save more people from dying from depression and other mental health conditions.”

Local sponsors for the Emerald Coast Out of the Darkness Community Walk include First Service Residential, Madison Parc Luxury Apartment Homes, Silver Sands Premium Outlets, and more.