"If we can educate people and create awareness, then we can ultimately prevent suicide" said Out of the Darkness Community Walk event coordinator Ariel Ellis. Studies show that every 100 minutes a teenager will attempt to commit suicide, 5,000 of them will succeed each year in the United States. That's why organizers hope the Out of the Darkness Community Walk held Saturday in Chico's Bidwell Park will make a difference. Ariel Ellis of Grass Valley lost her longtime friend to suicide in high school in 2008. "It was really hard to go through the grieving process when you weren't allowed to talk about what you were going through" Ellis explained.
The Out of the Darkness Community Walk is a national campaign, put on each year by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The organization aims to educate those on the dangers of depression, and offers help for those who are struggling with thoughts of suicide. "There's that stigma of not wanting to seek help and trying to deal with it on their own or make fun of someone that does have depression" said event co-chair Mike Gonzales. Gonzales lost his daughter suzanne to suicide in 2003. "There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about Suzanne and things I wish I would have known then, then I could have been able to help her more" Gonzales explained.
Studies show one out of eight teenagers suffer from depression, and often times turn to suicide as a way out. In Chico just last Sunday a teen from Pleasant Valley High School took his own life. "We just can't accept this anymore, we need to be aware, our teachers, our principals, our parents need to be aware of their children whether they're the bullies or if their the ones being bullied" said Congressman Wally Herger.
More than 300 took part in the walk. 16 vendors who deal with depression and suicide prevention also took part in the event, all hoping to spread one message. "You can get help, help is out there, you just need to make the effort" Ellis said.