By Sam Skopp
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) hosted one of many “Out of the Darkness” walks Saturday, Oct. 21, at Santa Monica Pier, with participating teams raising money for suicide education and prevention.
While the walk has been hosted in Santa Monica in the past, this is the first year it’s been moved from the Third Street Promenade to the Pier parking lot, adjacent to the beach.
“It’s aesthetically amazing,” said event co-chair Steven Hornstein.
Participants engaged with their personal relationship to struggles with suicide in a number of ways, from a wall onto which could be hung papercrafts with photos remembering loved ones, to beads representative of different kinds of relationships to someone lost to suicide, one’s own personal struggle, or general support for the cause.
Many participants also included names in remembrance of those for whom they were walking on race bibs and signs.
In total, 1,674 people signed up to participate before the event began, with walk-ups increasing that number to higher than in any past year.
“The Santa Monica community is amazing. It’s really a fantastic place to do an event,” said Hornstein. “The people have been welcoming and inviting, and we appreciate them and look forward to doing more walks with them.”
A resource fair, located at the start/end point of the walk, included booths from both local organizations and suicide prevention groups, like Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services.
The L.A. walk aims to raise $170,000 by December, and it was announced during Saturday’s closing ceremonies that $158,000 had been raised by the day of the event. A silent auction and a live musical performance rounded out proceedings.
This year, AFSP will host 415 walks all over the country. For more information on AFSP and their Out of the Darkness walks, visit afsp.donordrive.com.