Volunteers from Putnam County are joining the quarter of a million people who are walking in towns across the U.S. to draw attention to suicide prevention.
The annual Putnam County American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out of the Darkness Walk will begin at 10 a.m. Sept. 10 at the county’s Department of Social Services building at 110 Old Route 6, Carmel. The walk supports AFSP’s education and supports programs and its bold goal to reduce the annual U.S. rate of suicide 20 percent by the year 2025.
“Suicide rose to the 11th leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2021, reversing two years of decline,” said Maria Idoni, area director of the AFSP Hudson Valley Chapter. “Suicide touches one in five American families. We hope that by walking we will draw attention to this issue and keep other families from experiencing a suicide loss. Our ultimate goal is to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide.”
The Putnam County Out of the Darkness Walk is one of more than 550 overnight, community and campus walks being held nationwide this year. The events are expected to unite more than 300,000 walkers and raise millions for suicide prevention efforts. Last year, these walks raised more than $21 million for suicide prevention.
“These walks are about turning hope into action,” said AFSP CEO Robert Gebbia. “The research has shown us how to fight suicide, and if we keep up the fight, the science is only going to get better, and our culture will get smarter about mental health. With the efforts of our courageous volunteers, and a real investment from our nation’s leaders, we hope to significantly reduce the suicide rate in the U.S.”
Putnam County experienced 13 suicides in 2022. This year, there are already nine confirmed suicides – the highest number since 2013.
“The Out of the Darkness Walk helps bring attention to an often-silent issue and helps begin the conversation on promoting positive mental health,” said Putnam County Executive Kevin Byrne. “We’re working every day to educate our residents about the resources available to those in crisis, and we’re working to expand and strengthen our partnerships in the community so that there truly is no wrong door when someone needs help.”
Byrne will be joined by Commissioner of Mental Health Michael Piazza Jr. and Sheriff Kevin McConville as this year’s Putnam County Out of the Darkness Walk speakers.
“As law enforcement, we recognize the critical importance of addressing mental health and suicide prevention,” said McConville. “This is a powerful initiative that not only raises awareness about this issue, but also fosters community support for those affected. Through collaboration and open conversations, we can work together to save lives and provide hope to those individuals and families facing these challenges.”
To register for the Putnam County Out of the Darkness Walk, visit www.afsp.org/PC
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. It creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide.