Dear Editor:

Suicide does not discriminate. It is now the nation's tenth-leading cause of death, and the second-leading cause of death for Americans aged 15-34 years old. Every year suicide claims more lives than war, murder, and natural disasters combined. It is estimated that 85% of Americans will know someone who has died by suicide, and that one out of every five of those losses will be a close friend or relative. Suicide is preventable and we can all play a part in fighting it.

This next Saturday, September 21, Chatham Township will host the 4th Annual Out of the Darkness Community Walk to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). The event will take place at 4:30 PM rain or shine at Cougar Field located at 320 Shunpike Road in Chatham Township.

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Past Walks have attracted hundreds of participants from Morris, Essex, Union, and Somerset counties. We thank everyone who has participated in these Walks, which have raised nearly $250,000 for the AFSP. We recently surpassed this year’s fundraising goal of $60,000 and increased it to $80,000.

I would encourage you to consider participating in the Walk by visiting
www.afsp.org/chathamtwp to register as an individual, or as a team. If you are unable to walk, then please consider having a conversation with your family and friends. Remind them that suicide is preventable. If you or they need someone to talk to, please call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or visit the AFSP online (www.afsp.org) to view their many resources.

It is my hope that our walking will lead to talking, which is what we need to help remove the stigma when it comes to suicide prevention. If we are able to help one person think twice about suicide then we will have succeeded.

Curt Ritter
Out of the Darkness Walk Co-Chair
Chatham Twp. Committeeman