Annual Out of Darkness suicide prevention walk returns to Piedmont Park

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's 2023 Out of Darkness Walk held at Piedmont Park (Photo courtesy of AFSP)

More people died from suicide in the United States last year than any other year on record, according to provisional data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As part of their efforts to reduce the suicide rate in Georgia and bring hope to those impacted by suicide, the Georgia Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is holding its 20th annual Out of the Darkness Community Walk on Nov. 5 at 2 p.m. in Piedmont Park.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention uses the funds raised at more than 400 walks around the country each year for research, education, and advocacy to try to decrease the number of suicide-related deaths and support survivors. According to the organization, Atlanta Out of the Darkness Walks has raised $4 million since the first one took place in 2003.

The walk itself will consist of a nearly two-mile track inside Piedmont Park. In addition to the walk, there will be a memory wall, where people are welcome to bring photos of their loved ones and inscribe messages of love, encouragement and hope.

“Thousands of people gather together who have lost a loved one to suicide, or who perhaps are struggling, but we gather together as one… there’s a sense and purpose of ‘let’s not have any more people suffer this pain and loss’” said Jim Ford, a member of the Board of Directors for the Georgia Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Ford joined WABE’s “All Things Considered” to talk about the significance of the event, especially as someone who has dealt with suicide in his own family and life.

Christopher Alston contributed to this report.