The first annual Out of the Darkness Community Walk, to raise prevention and awareness for depression and suicide, will take place Saturday at the Hometown Farmer's Market.
The three-to-five-mile walk will benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), Schuylkill County Suicide Prevention Task Force and RHD-Power of Carbon county. A portion of of the proceeds will remain in Carbon and Schuylkill counties for local AFSP programs.
AFPS is a non-profit agency that provides support for those impacted from depression and the survivors of suicide.
Ann Marie Calabrese, walk chairman, lost her sister, Mary Ann, 35, to suicide in 1997.
"I decided to bring this important event to our area to channel my own grief in a positive way by helping others," Calabrese said. "I have had to watch too many families go through the same pain and grief over and over since then."
Calabrese reflected on her sister, who was also a well-loved substitute teacher.
"Mary Ann was my concert buddy, as we both shared our love of music," she said. "I remember one time how star-struck she was at an Aerosmith concert when she asked to borrow a stranger's binoculars to drool over Steven Tyler."
Because the diagnosis and treatment of illness associated with mood disorders are misunderstood by the general public, it often forces loved ones to suffer in silence. Some do not know about or do not receive the proper help they need.
Calabrese pointed out that many have experienced losing somone to suicide, and some questions will never be answered. She has one herself regarding treatment.
"Why are people too worried about what people will think of them, instead of concentrating on their recovery?" she asked. "It is time to remove the stigma of depression. It is a very serious issue. There are options and help available."
The first signature walk was in 2004, when only two took place in Pennsylvania and 30 nationwide. Last year, 17 walks were held in Pennsylvania and 300 nationwide.
There were only 15 chapters in 2004, compared to over 50 chapters now.
In the United States, a person dies by suicide every 16 minutes. It is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. among adults 18 to 65, the third leading causing of death among teens and young adults. Individuals aged 65 and older account for 16 percent of all suicide deaths.
Registration for the walk starts at 1 p.m. The walk starts at 2 p.m. To register or make a donation for the walk, goto www.outofthedarkness.org or simply show up. Donations are being taking until Dec. 31, 2011.