WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Walking Out of the Darkness

Sep 26, 2019

47,000 people took their own lives in the U.S. in the past year, making suicide the nation’s 10th leading cause of death. Two women in Macomb are working to make more people aware of the problem and raise money for suicide prevention programs.

The annual Out of the Darkness Walk will be held Saturday, September 28 in Macomb.

“The first two years we raised over $10,000 and last year we went over $16,000. That was thrilling and very surprising and awesome,” said Susan Denecke, who’s helping organize the walk.

“I had been to an Out of the Darkness walk in Galesburg in 2013 so I knew of the event. And then I lost my son to suicide in 2016. And that was the first thing I thought of – doing one here.”

Aimee Anderson, a Mental Health First Aid instructor for Bridgeway, said the money raised by the walk goes to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

“They do a lot of research and help keep data current about suicide statistics. They also provide educational programs that have been used in our community,” Anderson said, adding she also has personal reasons for getting involved with the walk.

“I’ve had several people that I’ve known who have experienced suicide attempts. I’ve also been affected at work with people who’ve lost their lives to suicide. So I really wanted to be a part of something that would help our community.”

The walk in Macomb will begin at 10:00 a.m. on the lawn outside City Hall. It will be held inside City Hall if it rains.

Denecke said information can be found on their Facebook page, though she also urged people to learn more by showing up for the event.

“I just encourage you, if you’re apprehensive about coming, you can come and kind of sit on the sidelines and watch what happens. I think people that have been affected by suicide will find it really supportive and inspiring,” she said.

Denecke said registration will begin at 9:00 a.m.  The group will hear from a few speakers beginning at 10:00 a.m. before they do a memory walk around the courthouse square.

Literature, information, and honor beads will be available, and there will be a wall where people can post pictures of those who’ve lost their lives to suicide.

Anderson said, “It’s just a place to gather and honor the memory of individuals that people have lost.”

And Denecke said it’s important to be visible to show people they have support, whether they lost someone to suicide or are experiencing their own mental health issues.