Cella’s Chat: Walking Out of the Darkness

It was an honor to be part of the “Out of the Darkness” walk on Saturday, September 7th in Virginia Beach, Virginia with both my step-daughter, Ashley and my friend and fellow attempt survivor, Renee. This walk is an annual event which takes place across the United States for the purpose of bringing about suicide prevention and awareness and the promotion of good mental health.  The day was beautiful - bright and sunny - the crowd was overwhelming...I suspect at least 4,500 (4,300 pre-registered and many more came to register that day). As we walked around the crowd, what looked like a festive event was actually surreal.  People donned ribbons of every color representing either the loss of a mother, father, sister, brother or the ribbon representing an attempt survivor.  Even dogs sported ribbons in support!  

As this event has expediently risen in numbers over the years - it is one event that you don't want to see rising in numbers. Approaching the wall of pictures representing suicide victims, we stood there pondering the amount of young people who gave up on life, some as young as 15.  You think "what could be so wrong at 15?" but the third leading cause of death between ages 15-24 is suicide.   Depression is a disease and IS curable. My mission is to erase the stigma from this disease and empower others to understand there is hope and possibilities in life.

As we approached the "wall" of colorful paper cranes, it could only elicit smiles all around.  The crane is an ancient bird and, in Japanese, Chinese and Korean tradition, the crane stands for longevity and good fortune.  The legend of the crane is that folding 1,000 origami cranes represents a form of healing and hope during challenging times.  As we prepared to walk through the "wall" of cranes, a chill went through my body.  At that moment, the thought that I survived that awful time in my life made me thankful that I received the help and hope I needed.  Unless you have walked in another's shoes, then reserve your judgment.  I, too, at one time thought "how can anyone take their own life." And then…it happened to me. Depression is a disease and, if left untreated or not treated properly, it alters the chemicals in your brain to such a degree that you simply cannot think straight.  Life becomes truly unbearable and the feeling of being a burden is too great for many.

This walk brought people together for one common cause, to honor the loved ones lost to this disease and to prevent any more losses in the future.  This sea of people represented the cause for saving lives.  As I left this event, I felt confident that every year more people would get the help needed and find their joy again.

“You don't drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying there.” 

Edwin Louis Cole

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