The Hot Springs Out of the Darkness Community Walk, scheduled for Saturday in downtown Hot Springs, is part of a nationwide effort to draw attention to the fight for suicide prevention.
Hosted by the Arkansas Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the walk will be held from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday beginning at the Exchange Street Parking Plaza, featuring music by instrumentalist Ricko Donovan and folk singer Laura Lee Williard.
Kay Ekey, the event's coordinator, said bringing attention to suicide awareness helps to prevent suicide by eliminating the stigma attached to it and making the conversations around it more comfortable.
"Asking someone if they're considering suicide is not going to put the thought in their head and actually they will probably be glad someone cared enough to ask," she said. "A lot of people don't realize how prevalent it is."
Ekey said after losing her brother to suicide in 2014 she didn't hide the fact he had taken his own life, and once people realized that she had many people approach her with stories of similar experiences in their family.
"It sounds odd, but that was kind of comforting to know someone else had gone through that same unique type of grief, and I felt like I had someone I could reach out to for support," she said.
Ekey said suicide affects numerous people in the community and support should be given for one another.
"All kinds of loss has its own type of grief," she said. "Whether it's someone lost after a long bout with terminal illness, or someone lost unexpectedly in a car accident, or someone who has taken their own life. The types of grief that immediately follow that are different, so it's nice to know you're not alone. ... We like to know even people who are not directly involved are compassionate about something that has touched you."
Prior to the walk, the event will include making "memory bead pins" and a "memory quilt" to honor suicide victims, and hearing testimonies from people who have been affected by suicide.
Ekey said the money donated at the walk will go toward suicide prevention research and educational programs.
"We have a law now in Arkansas that requires public schools to go through at least two hours of suicide prevention training every four years, that colleges have to present training to students upon entering," she said.
The walk's donation goal is $6,000, but Ekey said she believes they will surpass it since they have already topped $5,000 in online donations.
The Hot Springs walk route is approximately three-quarters of a mile long, paved, and flat, and the event will be held rain or shine.
There is no registration fee, although donations are encouraged, and participants can register the day of or online at http://www.afsp.org/hotsprings.Local on 10/10/2019
Print Headline: Out of the Darkness walk set Saturday