YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — It’s an issue people aren’t too comfortable talking about: suicide and mental illness.
For the 500 walking at Mill Creek Park, suicide awareness is something they want to talk about.
They hope by being open about their loss, others will get the help they need.
The names and pictures on shirts tell the stories of countless loved ones who took their own lives.
“The main objective is to bring people together and let them know they’re not alone,” said Brenda Cosola, Out of Darkness Walk.
The Youngstown Out of Darkness Walk is part of national effort to raise awareness about suicide.
“We speak about suicide it breaks that taboo and the stigma attached to it,” said LeeAnn Johnson, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
LeeAnn Johnson is the wife of Congressman Bill Johnson. She shared her personal experience with suicide.
“Lost my grandparents nearly 30 years ago to a murder suicide. So it was an event so tragic that it took my mother most of my life to tell me, but in sharing the story it has also helped with the healing,” said Johnson.
The Centers for Disease control says there were almost 40,000 suicides in 2011.
Doves were released at Saturday’s walk to honor Valley families who have lost someone to suicide.
Kim Baun’s 24-year-old daughter, Stephanie, took her own life in March.
“I miss her terribly, and I wish she were still here with me,” said Kim Baun.
Over 60 friends and family walked in honor of Stephanie. Baun got involved with the walk to stay motivated to do something.
“If I can help anybody not lose their daughter like I lost Stephanie, that’s all worth it,” said Baun.
That’s how other families at the walk feel too. For them it’s a time to remember their loved ones and hope with each step, more families don’t have to join them next year.