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The fifth annual Las Cruces Out of the Darkness Walk to Prevent Suicide will begin at 8 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 10, at Young Park, 1905 E. Nevada Ave. September is national Suicide Prevention Month.
The event is hosted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) New Mexico Chapter and supports the AFSP’s programs and its goal of reducing the annual rate of suicide in the United States by 20 percent by the year 2025.
As of Sept. 1, the Las Cruces walk had raised nearly $6,00 of its $15,000 goal. Visit https://afsp.org/chapter/new-mexico#events and click on “Las Cruces Walk” to donate.
“We hope for over 500 walkers this year,” said Las Cruces Out of the Darkness Walk Chair Robyn Rehbein.
In 2021, with limitations because of COVID-19, the Las Cruces walk was a “drive-thru” event, as
people picked up goodie bags and beads, Rehbein said, with different-colored beads given out “to represent losses and struggles with suicide.” There were 202 participants and $10,115 was raised.
There were 583 walkers at the 2020 virtual event, with $41,715 raised; 819 walkers in 2019, with $21,948 raised; and 765 walkers in 2018, with $18,590 raised.
“Suicide touches one in five American families,” Rehbein said. “We hope that by walking we will draw attention to this issue and keep other families from experiencing a suicide loss. Our ultimate goal is to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide.”
The Las Cruces Out of the Darkness Walk is one of more than 550 overnight, community and campus walks being held nationwide this year, AFSP said in a news release. The walks are expected to unite more than 300,000 walkers and raise millions of dollars for suicide prevention.
“Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., yet suicide can be prevented,” said AFSP, which has chapters in all 50 states. “New Mexico has the second highest number of suicides and suicide is the second leading cause of death for individual ages 10-34.”
The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) reported last December that 520 New Mexicans died by suicide in 2020, an increase of five over 2019. New Mexico’s suicide rate was 24.6 deaths per 100,000 in 2020, NMDOH said, 23 percent higher than the average nationwide.
Anyone experiencing suicide ideation or any other mental or behavioral health issue, or who knows someone who is, can call the new three-digit 988 number for help and guidance.
For more information, contact Rehbein at 575-496-8532 and firstname.lastname@example.org.