CHATHAM, NJ -  It's an issue that Chatham Township Mayor Curt Ritter takes very seriously. So much so, that he has choked up in public while speaking about a suicide of a local teen.

Ritter isn't just talking about bringing awareness to suicides, he's been taking action. In June, he invited the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention for a "Talk Saves Lives" presentation at the township municipal building. 

Now he's physically taking his mission to the streets with a "Out of the Darkness" walk set for Saturday, Sept. 24, which will start 9 a.m. at Chatham High School.

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Ritter announced that the walk already has raised more than $20,000 for suicide prevention and that the goal keeps getting higher because of the support shown by the community.

Last Thursday, the Chatham Township Committee made a proclamation in support of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Month.

The Borough of Chatham Council, in coordination with council member Len Resto, followed with a similar proclamation at its meeting on Monday night.

In reading his proclamation into the record, Ritter noted that suicide claimed more than 41,000 lives in 2013, with someone dying by suicide every 12.8 minutes. The proclamation also said that there have been nearly one million attempts annually.

“Suicide is preventable, and while it’s not a topic that is often discussed, we believe our inaugural community walk will help shed light on this important issue," Ritter said. "Suicide touches one in five American families and we hope that by walking we save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide. Earlier this year, we heard statistics from the School District of the Chathams in which four percent of middle school students and eight percent of high school students have thought about suicide.

"We know that suicide does not discriminate. I encourage all residents to consider participating in this important event and support our efforts to help prevent suicide.”

Those wishing to join the Sept. 24 walk, which will take place rain or shine, can register as an individual, or as a team, by visiting the Chatham Township Community Walk website at www.afsp.org/chathamtwp. Individuals are also encouraged to ‘Like’ the Walk’s Facebook page at http://bit.ly/29SsLI9