Texarkana hosted its 1st annual Out of the Darkness walk as a fundraiser for the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. Each state has its own chapter, the one for Arkansas is located in Little Rock. All the funds raised at the events are used to help support researchers in finding ways to stop suicide, and also to help provide training on how to help those dealing with suicide.
This year’s walk raised a total of $5,538 that will go towards research and training and had a total of 285 participants in the walk.
The event included hope and healing exercises, booths with information on all the resources that are out there for loss survivors, and people dealing with suicidal thoughts.
“Today is about awareness, letting people know that we know what you’re going through and so we can all just be here for each other,” said Melissa Mims, coordinator.
Mims is an attempt survivor and that is why events like this are so close to her heart. An attempt survivor is someone who has attempted suicide and survived it. She attempted suicide 2 years ago and survived and she has made it her personal mission to make sure that people in that same situation always have somewhere to go and someone to talk to.
“If I would have had a group of people that were going through what I was going through I wouldn’t have felt so alone, because your family can be there for you but they don’t always know exactly what you feel or what to say,” said Mims, “and that’s exactly why I felt Texarkana needed a group like this.”
There were several other groups in attendance including: Equality Texarkana for the LGBTQ community, Stockton Medical Group, an outpatient opioid addiction treatment center, and Mission 22, for help with veteran suicide.
Also in attendance was Christina Davis, Miss Texarkana 2017 whose platform is “Positive Minds; Inspiring Lives” which also promotes mental illness awareness and suicide prevention. She herself has also dealt with suicidal thoughts and depression and it is part of the reason she decided to partner with project semicolon, and start her own chapter here in Texarkana.
“I hope that people learn from this walk that they are not alone,” said Davis.
She believes that the stigma put on mental illness and suicide makes those dealing with it feel that they can’t talk to anyone about it or that no one will listen. She hopes that people will “come out of the darkness”, start a conversation, and ultimately help save lives in the process.
For more information on the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and all the great things they do you can visit afsp.org.