On Saturday morning, Oct. 14, the weather was gloomy for a benefit walk.
The sky was overcast with rain drizzling at Triad Park in Kernersville, where a mass of walkers had gathered for a good cause.
While unpleasant, the weather may have been the perfect backdrop to this event – the “Out of the Darkness Triad Area Walk.” It was meant to remember the victims of suicide, help prevent those types of tragedies in the future and also provide strength and support for suicide loss survivors.
The walk accomplished its goals. It raised a lot of money and it brought together, and offered support to, a lot of people whose lives have been touched by suicide.
The event began at 10 a.m. at Triad Park’s Field of Honor with the crowd remembering the lives of soldiers and first responders who lost their lives to suicide.
The event included a Beads Ceremony, where suicide loss survivors stood and held a string of beads – with different colored strings reflecting the participant’s relationship to the person lost.
After the walk, the mood was more cheerful and there were prize drawings and live music to entertain the walkers.
One walker was Guilford County Register of Deeds Jeff Thigpen, who lost an uncle to suicide at his childhood home in Pender county in 1995.
Thigpen said the walk and the related ceremonies were very moving and helped people heal. He even livestreamed some of the proceedings on Facebook.
“I think most people who attend the walk see it as a healing experience and you can’t help but be inspired by the people’s struggles and resilience as survivors.”
He also said the walk clearly had an effect on the participants.
“Most importantly, we realize we are all not alone,” Thigpen said. “The Out of the Darkness Walk takes suicide out of the darkness and brings it into the light of day. We need to take the stigma and misconceptions out of suicide, talk about this deeply personal issue openly and unapologetically while strengthening our community’s capacity to help create a world without suicide.”
He said he likes a photo of 30 teenagers (above) who were at the event because teens are one group highly susceptible to suicide.
“It was very impactful to those in attendance when they saw just how many young people came to the event,” he said.
He noted three parts to the walk that he found “incredibly impactful.”
First, the veteran and first responder gathering to remember and support veterans and first responders lost to suicide in the past year.
He said another was the Beads Ceremony, which is the life stories of the suicide victims are shared by families and loved ones.
Lastly, Thigpen said, the walk itself is healing.
“No matter your background, beliefs, differences, suicide impacts us all,” he said. “To be with all these people comforting and supporting one another through their pain and loss has an authority on its own. It is both spoken and unspoken.”