The nonprofit American Foundation for Suicide Prevention will hold its “Out of the Darkness Walk” in Santa Monica Saturday, Oct. 23 to raise funds for suicide prevention programs.
The walk will begin at 9 a.m. at Santa Monica City Hall, 1685 Main St., and end at the same location at approximately 11:30 a.m.
In addition to foundation supporters Mark and Shirley Ballas from “Dancing with the Stars,” a large celebrity turnout is anticipated, event organizers say. Gary Bryan from K-EARTH 101 will serve as the master of ceremonies for the event with actress/author Mariette Hartley and actor/writer Jerry Sroka hosting.
Mental health resource programs including the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health and Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services are among the groups attending the walk. Outreach programs such as Teen Line and Trevor Project are also slated to attend. The groups will be available to answer questions, discuss suicide prevention, and provide much-needed resources to walk participants who may need assistance.
Suicide is the third leading cause of death among teens and young adults and the second leading cause of death for college students, according to the foundation.
“The Out of the Darkness Walk is extremely important,” said Dr. Elaine Leader, executive director of Teen Line. “We at Teen Line are particularly concerned about teen suicide and the need to prevent teens from reaching such a state of hopelessness that they see no alternative to their misery than to choose suicide to relieve their emotional pain.”
The Angel City Derby Girls, a local competitive roller derby team, will be on hand to energize the crowd. The squad will serve as walk leaders, skating through the duration of the walk route.
“On behalf of everyone at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, words cannot express how grateful we are to all of the groups who are coming together in support of our mission. They are truly our guardian angels,” said Laura Levinsky, area director for the foundation.