September is known nationally as Suicide Prevention Month. Across the nation, many organizations, such as the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), hold events that break the stigma of suicide. These events are hosted online, on college campuses and locally.
AFSP has a mission to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide. In one way or another, many Americans have been affected by suicide. Some may have lost a family member or friend while others have contemplated thoughts of suicide. The topic is not an easy one to talk about for most. AFSP wants to make it easier for all of us to heal and discuss what shouldn’t be considered shameful.
Education on the topic is key to helping those we love. AFSP runs a virtual program that aims to prevent suicide.
“Talks Saves Lives is a rudimentary program around understanding the signs and symptoms of suicide and how to prevent it,” said Kristen Petillo, the area director for the Atlanta, Ga. chapter. “It is a complimentary program. Its to understand the commonalities and how someone may be at risk for suicide.
“If someone’s speech or behavior has changed, [the program teaches] how to speak safely about suicide and how to reach out to someone you may be concerned about,” continued Petillo. “It wraps around what it looks like and how to have that conversation in an empowering way to express that you care about someone.”
AFSP also hosts walk events called Out of The Darkness walks. AFSP will be partnering with the Cranford family once again by hosting a walk locally in Carrollton. This will be the second annual Out of The Darkness walk in Carrollton. The walks were started by Carrollton local Olivia Cranford with the help of her mother, Becky Cranford.
“When I was nine years old, my brother died by suicide,” said Olivia Cranford. “That’s had a big impact on our lives.”
Olivia began looking for ways to connect and create a safe space for others affected by suicide in Carrollton.
“She found AFSP online,” said Becky Cranford. “She had started a blog called Hide and Seek and she wrote it for AFSP. After that, she really wanted to find more ways to have an impact.”
AFSP has helped the Cranford family reach a larger than expected audience for their walks. Last year, over 400 attendees came for the first inaugural walk. This year they are expecting over 500 attendees.
The walk will be held on Oct. 30.
AFSP is always looking for volunteers to help spread their message about suicide prevention. If you are interested in volunteering, please head to https://afsp.org/ and fill out the form online. If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts, please dial 988. This number will direct you to the suicide hotline.