LAKE PLACID — A walk to raise awareness about suicide will bring hundreds of busy feet to the village here on Sunday.
The annual Out of the Darkness Community Walk starts at the Olympic Oval at 1 p.m. and proceeds along the 3-mile circle around Mirror Lake.
By Friday morning, registration tallies had reached more than $24,000 in donations to support ongoing efforts to disassemble the stigma and misconceptions around death by suicide.
Death by suicide affects about 60 percent of the U.S. population, according to Laura Marx, area director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
“Sixty percent of us will personally know someone who has died by suicide,” she said in a news release.
“And 20 percent of us will lose a close family member to suicide. Often, we hear survivors of suicide loss ... say that they feel alone and isolated. The Out of the Darkness Community Walk is an opportunity for them to connect with others who have had a shared experience.”
Funds raised go to the foundation.
Advocating for outreach and awareness, Saranac Lake parent Deb Jerdo is co-chairwoman of the North Country program.
She and her husband, Doug, lost their son Joshua to suicide in February 2005, and they walk each year in memory of him.
Joshua was 23 at the time and had recently endured the tragic death of his sister Lindsay, who was stricken suddenly and did not survive spinal meningitis.
“Ninety percent of people who die by suicide have a diagnosable and treatable mental illness at the time of their death,” Jerdo said in sharing her thoughts ahead of the Out of the Darkness event.
“Our hope is that through community awareness events, such as the walk, people will be encouraged to talk openly about how they feel, they will begin to feel comfortable seeking help, and they will know where they can go to get the help they need.