When it comes to serious issues, not everyone is ready to admit that the problem exists, but the fact is the danger is much closer than people think. One of the main detrimental global problems that is plaguing our society is suicide. Everybody is aware of it, but not many people know how to deal with this problem.

The American Foundation for Suicidal Prevention (AFSP), led by CEO Robert Gebbia, is a not-for-profit organization that helps people who have first-hand experience with suicide, people who have mental health disorders, and their families and/or friends who might have lost their loved ones.

One of their regular events is called Out Of The Darkness Walks and they are held in approximately 400 places all over the country. The kinds of people who attend these walks are the individuals who were directly or indirectly affected by suicide. The Out of The Darkness Walk unites people with similar problems and helps them feel better about their situations by creating a community of people who understand and sympathize with one another.

“It is a walk that’s healing for many people, who’ve lost someone and an opportunity for them to get together with others, who’ve lost someone,” said Traute Winters, the Los Angeles area director. “Our main goal is fundraising to support our programs and also to raise the awareness and to reduce the stigma.”

One of these walks was organized on Nov. 6, in Pasadena Central Park. The sunny morning and the smiling people created an atmosphere of friendliness and honesty. Before the walk began, speakers shared their stories with the public. They did it in order to make people understand that it is acceptable, even encouraged, for them to talk about their problems. One of the speakers was Lisa Klein, the director of the documentary “The S Word.” She was sharing her personal experience with the public and her way of dealing with the problem.

“I do really feel like suicide alone is not a problem, it’s just the deafening silence that surrounds it,” said Klein. “We’re a part of the community, we’re the part of the club where no one wants to be a member, but that’s what we’ve got.”

There were so many people who came to the event that morning because of the same reason, but they all had very different and heartbreaking stories. The organizers of this event gave everyone a chance to find someone, who experienced the same problem. They provided lots of colorful beads for everybody and each color represented the reason why each person was there, whether it was a loss of a loved one, or a personal struggle with depression.

The organizers took a bit of time for people to raise their beads of each color to find and support others with the same problem. There was also a stand, where people could put a hand-made heart with the picture of whom they lost to honor the memory of those people.

Suicide is a problem that has reached enormous numbers. According to Klein, the main reason behind the suicides is silence. People feel that they are alone with the problem, and no one, but themselves can help them. Such organizations as AFSP bring hope to people who are afflicted with suicidal thoughts and tendencies.

“It started with our daughter, who attempted several times and she is actually here with us. And I’ve suffered also before and attempted my own life, but never got treatment for it, because all this information wasn’t out there,” said Robert Lopez, whose family has been a member of the AFSP for two years. “So now she went through this and it opened my eyes even more. So we’re here supporting her. This organization helped us a lot through the openings of the resources they have.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is one of the 10 leading causes of death and these rates keep increasing. People need to understand, that knowing the fact, that this issue exists is not enough. We need to pay more attention to those we love, provide them support, and just be there when they need us the most. This is a problem that needs to be publicly talked about and dealt with. We need to speak up because silence kills.

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