Community members attend third annual ‘Out of Darkness’ walk

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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – As a part of an American Foundation for Suicide Prevention initiative, ETSU hosted the “Out of Darkness” community walk on campus Sunday afternoon.

The event is designed to show those struggling with mental health in the area that they are not alone, organizers say. Organizers also hope to bring together the community and start a dialogue surrounding the issue.

Milligan student John Wade made the trek around ETSU’s campus for the loved ones he’s lost to suicide.

“I’ve had a couple friends who they just they got to a very dark place, and they didn’t have the support that they needed,” Wade said. “They didn’t have the people that they thought they could reach out to, and I think that’s a real tragedy.”

Organizer K.J. Thompson said after holding a virtual event last year, the group is glad to be back at a time when it’s needed more than ever.

“COVID there’s been a lot of isolation and deterioration of mental health,” Thompson said. “I’m really thankful that we’re able to have this event just to get the community together to feel connected, to feel heard, and to feel supported.”

Breana Nease is a therapist in Kingsport and said she sees firsthand how prevalent suicide is in the community.

“Every day we see people who are struggling with suicidal thoughts and people who have attempted, or people that are experiencing the fallout of losing someone to suicide,” Nease said.

For some, it’s all about putting one foot in front of the other.

“Don’t be afraid to turn to people in your life even if you think you’re not particularly close,” Wade said. “Even if you think you might be a burden, you’re not.”

Alongside the walk, donations were collected to benefit the efforts of the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. To donate, visit here.

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