Several hundred people gathered for the Treasure Valley's Out of the Darkness walk Saturday morning, an American Foundation for Suicide Prevention fundraiser meant to promote resources and provide support to those contemplating suicide or affected by it.
The event, held at Kleiner Park in Meridian, raised over $40,000 for the Idaho chapter of the AFSP, which was created about a year ago. Speakers praised Idaho's recent suicide prevention mandates before teams of walkers embarked on the 5K around The Village at Meridian.
"The legislature and health care commission of Idaho have recognized suicide as the No.1 issue facing the state," said W. Stewart Wilder, president of the Idaho Suicide Prevention Coalition. He said Idaho's suicide prevention initiatives are "really unheard of" on a national level.
Amid his compliments for Idaho legislators, Wilder told the crowd their presence was what made a real impact in this issue.
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"In the world of suicide prevention, it's survivors that make the difference," Wilder said to the 200-plus attendees who stood among dozens of memorial signs for those who took their own lives.
That message resonated with attendees like Nancy Round, of Salt Lake City, who was walking in honor of her son, Mark Round Jr. He killed himself last year during a difficult divorce, Round said.
"All I can say is talk about it," she said. "When you lose someone like that you feel like the only one on earth who has experienced it."
"I wouldn't mention the word suicide to (my son) because I didn't want him to think it, but (people) need to make sure they're not thinking it. I loved him dearly."