B-A’s Aevidum supports the Out of the Darkness Walk

The+community+of+Bellwood-+Antis+recognizes+suicide+at+the+awareness+walk+at+Mansion+Park

Cathy Adams

The community of Bellwood- Antis recognizes suicide at the awareness walk at Mansion Park

Mariah Younker, Staff Writer

Last Saturday morning people from all over Blair County joined together to recognize suicide prevention by walking in the Out of the Darkness Walk at Mansion Park.  The Blair County Task Force organizes this walk every year to honor loved ones lost to suicide over the past years.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, “Suicide claimed 41,149 lives in 2013 in the United States alone, with someone dying by suicide every 12.8 minutes. A suicide attempt is made every minute of every day, resulting in nearly one million attempts made annually.”

These are terrifying statistics that need to be addressed.  When the word suicide is mentioned, most people shy away from the topic.  Times are changing, however, and over the past five years, suicide is finally being recognized as a cause of a mental illness.

For example, at Bellwood-Antis students can address issues of suicide and depression by joining the Aevidum club, which was well represented at the walk.

The Out of the Darkness walk began with a prayer and commencement speech recognizing suicide in our community by citizens sharing survivor stories.  Bellwood-Antis senior Zane Wenner delivered a heartfelt speech about his step-father, who lost the battle to suicide.  Another man shared the story of his daughter and read directly from the last note she wrote before she took her own life.

After the two speeches there was not a dry eye in the audience.

It really does make you realize how serious depression and suicide is.”

— Tyson Irvin

Soon after the walk began, an estimated 300 members of Blair County gathered and walked a mile in honor of their loved ones.  Many groups that walked had shirts dedicated to a specific loved ones.

Snacks, drinks, pamphlets, t-shirts, magnets, and so much more were given out by volunteers during the entire event.  A poster was laid out for signing entitled “Why We Walk” and had notes written all over it dedicated to people who suffer or have suffered mental illnesses.

“It’s great to see the youth that comes out to these walks.  Year after year there are more kids that attend the walk,” said Mr. Matthew McNaul, one of the advisors of B-A’s Aevidum club.  “A lot of our ninth graders came to the walk as well as other upperclassmen that are a part of Aevidum here at Bellwood-Antis.”

“It feels good to participate in something for a good cause.  It really does make you realize how serious depression and suicide is.  It was a good turnout,” freshman, Tyson Irvin said.

After the walk, more people got a chance to share their stories and experiences with suicide.  A balloon launch was held and each walker received a balloon and wrote a special message for their loved ones.  Some 300 balloons were released into the sky that afternoon in honor of suicide victims.