Walk for Suicide Prevention registration continues
The annual Out of the Darkness Walk for Suicide Prevention is Nov. 7 at Windsong Ranch and will bring an opportunity for comfort and community for people who have lost a loved one to suicide. Because of COVID safety recommendations, the walk start times will be staggered to allow for more social distancing.
The first start time is at 8 a.m. with walks beginning every twenty minutes until 11 a.m.
Wendy Tyler organizes the event each year. Her son Christian died by suicide four years ago.
“He was a junior at Prosper High School,” Tyler said. “After he died my daughter looked for resources and found the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. There was a walk six weeks away, and we participated in that walk. Everything about that walk was just beautiful and healing. I contacted the AFSP to see if we could hold a walk in Prosper. I just felt like Prosper would embrace that and would prefer a walk here in our town. We had our first walk in Prosper in 2016.”
Tyler described Christian, 15, as smart, funny and witty.
“He was in Scouts and loved camping and archery," Tyler said. "He also spent a lot of time watching YouTube videos as many teenagers do. He is the youngest, so he always spent time with me and my husband when we went on dates. He even sat in between us when we went to the movies."
Despite all of the seemingly positive things in his life, Christian struggled with depression, his mother said.
"He had a good summer before he died," Tyler continued. " He did so well that summer, but then going back to school was hard for him. He felt like everyone knew what they wanted to do when they grew up and he felt like he should have his life figured out too. He just did not know how to handle all the emotions teens feel very well.”
Unfortunately, other Prosper teens have also died by suicide.
“The first year the big team was our team remembering Christian,” Tyler said. “The next year was Chandler’s Drumline, as we had another loss in Prosper. Then there was Brayden the next year. Every year there have been these big teams for these young men who have been lost. It feels like people have come out of the woodwork. People do not talk about suicide much, and I think this has been a way for people to walk and remember their loved ones in a safe space.”
Because of the losses in the school district, Prosper ISD has increased their support of teenagers in the hope of preventing suicide.
“The school district has been so supportive,” Tyler said. “They have a HOPE Squad created to address this issue. People from the district come out each year and support us. I really appreciate all of the community support.”
Honor Beads are given out before the walk to signify for whom each person is walking. Each bead color signifies a relationship with the person lost, including a strand to signify that the walker themselves struggles with suicide.
The registration website says the following: “Losing someone to suicide or struggling with a mental illness can feel like no one understands what you are going through. Unlike other illnesses, it is difficult to look at someone and know their connection. There is an honor bead for everyone, whether you have lost a loved one, struggle personally, support a friend and/or family member, or all of the above.”
The walk is also a fundraiser for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Funds raised are dedicated to research, education, and advocacy. The goal of the AFSP is to reduce suicide by 20% by 2025. A committee of expert advisors have researched who is dying by suicide, why they are making that choice, how they are dying, and what can be done to save lives. Funds for this walk are accepted through December 31, 2020.
“Registration is ongoing,” Tyler said. “The registration officially closes on November 6 at noon. The walk is free. We encourage fundraising but it is not required. Even if someone does not register, they are still able to walk. While the walk will look different because of the staggered times, we will still have the Memory Wall and get Honor Beads. Registration is at AFSP.org/Prosper. It only takes a few minutes to register. For anyone out there that is struggling, please remember that you matter.”