By Amelia Mack
Over 900 people gathered in Mill Creek Park on the morning of Oct. 8 to honor lost loved ones by participating in the ninth Out of the Darkness Community Walk.
The walk raised funds for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and raised awareness of programs available for those struggling with mental illness and suicidal thoughts.
Cindy Orslene, the director of the event, lost her son to suicide.
“Hopefully we brought to the community [the knowledge] that we need education and to raise awareness on the issue of suicide in our area,” Orslene said.
The organization exceeded their fundraising goal of $32,000. Debra DiCillo, the AFSP chapter secretary, said the funds from the event go back to helping prevent suicide.
The walk was attended by groups and individuals, who are struggling with their own mental illnesses, and those who have lost loved ones, DiCillo said.
“It’s healing, because you look around, and you realize you’re not alone,” she said. “There really are so many people, and there is strength in numbers.”
Before the walk, DiCillo told the crowd that the event’s message was to maintain hope even in the darkest of times.
Emily Fisher, a Youngstown State University student who participated in the walk, said attending the walk allowed her to reflect on her own struggles with mental illness and help others struggling with it as well.
“I myself have struggled with clinical depression and anxiety my entire life, so the topic of suicide prevention and awareness is a personal one for me,” Fisher said. “I was lucky enough to find the resources — counseling, medication and support groups — that led me to educate myself on what exactly depression is as a mental disease and then be able to understand, accept and cope with it.”
She said the event was a positive, even though the topic can be very emotional and somber.
“The park was filled with hope and determination,” Fisher said. “I’m so glad I got to see such a large group gathered together with the same goals in mind.”