Aberdeen residents walk for suicide prevention awareness

Published: Sep. 17, 2022 at 1:16 PM CDT
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ABERDEEN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The Aberdeen chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention held its Out of the Darkness Walk on Saturday, starting and ending the 2.8 mile route at the Odde Ice Center.

Each September, which is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention holds hundreds of Out of the Darkness Community Walks across the country.

Registration for the walk in Aberdeen was free-will donation. All funds raised will go toward mental health resources in Aberdeen and throughout South Dakota.

Committee members say they were expecting over 400 walkers to show their support for those struggling with mental health.

”I think if you even just look around right now, it shows you how much support our community gives us. Obviously, suicide and mental health is a subject that, for a lot of people, isn’t very easy to talk about, but that’s why we’re here. We want to show people that it’s not something to be afraid of. It’s okay to ask for help,” said Aberdeen AFSP committee member Chance Torrence.

Michelle Johnson and thirty of her friends and family walked for her brother, Kevin.

”My brother passed away in ‘18 from suicide. So, we decided we were going to start raising money and walk for him,”

Team Kevin alone raised over $3,400 for the event.

Johnson says she never expected to lose a loved one to suicide.

”It was definitely a life-changing moment. I guess I never thought that it would happen. We’ve always dealt with depression, but that never happened in our family before,” said Johnson.

Those in the agriculture community that are struggling with mental health are who Johnson especially wants to raise awareness for.

“We also farm, and there’s been a lot of farming suicides, so we work a lot for that too. It’s not a stigma. Ask for help, it’s okay. That’s what I just want to do. I just want everybody to know that it’s okay,” said Johnson.

Before the walk had even begun, the Aberdeen chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention had already reached its goal of raising $45,000.