ONEIDA — Each year since 2013, volunteers from the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Madison County have teamed up with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to host the annual Out of the Darkness Walk for suicide prevention.
This year the Coalition is stepping out on its own and hosting a virtual STEPtember for Suicide Prevention Walk with 100% of the funds raised from the Walk local staying in the community to benefit Madison County residents.
The funds will be used to help support efforts for prevention, education, and awareness initiatives surrounding suicide, as well as for intervention and postvention strategies to help those with suicidal ideation and suicide loss survivors.
Although a predominantly rural area, Madison County has one of the highest suicide rates among counties in the state. Compared to the state average of 8.5 deaths per 100,000 residents, the death by suicide rate in Madison County is 14.1 deaths per 100,000 residents. A single suicide loss is estimated to impact 115 people, organizers said.
The STEPtember for Suicide Prevention Walk is open to anyone and everyone.
Although based in Madison County, the virtual platform allows all survivors of suicide, suicide loss, and/or supporters of suicide prevention to take part, no matter their location, organizers said. To accommodate every
participant’s individual abilities, all types of movements are acceptable. This includes but is not limited to, walking, running, biking, scootering, and rollerblading.
Registration for the virtual event opens on Sat., Aug. 1, and will remain open for the month of August. Registration can be found by visiting: bridgescouncil.org or the walk Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/STEPtemberWalk
The walk itself will occur during National Suicide Awareness Month in September. Participants will register and log their movements each day throughout the month. Participants can register as individuals or as members of a team. Teams and individuals raising the most in donations and the most miles in movement will be eligible for additional prizes.
Registration is $25 and all those registering will get a welcome gift. Those participants raising $100 or over will receive a Walk t-shirt and those raising $250 or more will earn a Walk sweatshirt. All prizes will be awarded in October after the final donations and counts are in at the close of the walk on Sept. 30.
“If we all STEP (move) a little, it will mean a lot for supporting others,” said Kathleen Liedka, 2019 walk co-chair and member of the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Madison County.
For more information, to donate, or to register on the STEPtember for Suicide Prevention Walk, visit www.bridgescouncil.org or visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/STEPtemberWalk.