CHATHAM, NJ -The Second Annual "Out of the Darkness Community Walk," which last year attracted more than 500 walkers and raised in excess of $75,000 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), will take place September 23 at Cougar Field in Chatham Township.

Participants can register as an individual, or as a team, by visiting www.afsp.org/chathamtwp. Check-in/registration will begin at 4:30 p.m., while the Walk will start at 5:30 p.m.

Dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide, the AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide.

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Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and the 11th leading cause of death overall in New Jersey. The School District of the Chathams has reported that four percent of middle school students and eight percent of high school students have thought about suicide.

“Suicide does not discriminate and is preventable," Chatham Township Mayor Curt Ritter said. "We know that it’s not a topic that is often discussed, but we believe our efforts to shed light on this important issue through our annual 'Out of the Darkness Walk' and community forums on suicide awareness and prevention can make a difference."

The Chatham Township Out of the Darkness Walk is one of more than 375 Out of the Darkness Community Walks being held nationwide this year. Hundreds of individuals from throughout Morris, Essex, and Union Counties are expected to participate in the Walk, which will support the AFSP’s local and national education and advocacy programs and its bold goal to reduce the annual rate of suicide 20 percent by 2025.

“These walks are about turning hope into action,” said AFSP CEO Robert Gebbia. “Suicide is a serious problem, but it’s a problem we can solve. The research has shown us how to fight suicide, and if we keep up the fight the science is only going to get better, our culture will get smarter about mental health, and we’ll be able to save more people from dying from depression and other mental health conditions.” 

Earlier this year, the Chatham Township Committee hosted a community forum, “Talk Saves Lives,” in conjunction with the AFSP. Individuals can view a replay of the presentation at http://www.chathamtownship-nj.gov/talk-saves-lives

The "Out of the Darkness Walk" will take place rain or shine. Cougar Field is located at 320 Shunpike Road in Chatham Township.