Out of the Darkness Overnight walk touches couple

Stephanie and Bret Hicks and six family members and friends teamed up to take part in Out of the Darkness Overnight, a 20-mile walk to raise funds and awareness for suicide prevention, education and research programs and support survivors of suicide loss.

The eight-member team participated in the walk, which benefits the non-profit American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, on July 22-23 in San Francisco.

"The Overnight walk was an incredible experience and we wanted to share with you some pictures," said the Ruhenstroth couple. "Our team raised over $16K."

Participants had to raise at least $1,000 each in order to make the walk, and there were about 1,100 walkers in San Francisco. Between the San Francisco Overnight and the Chicago Overnight that took place on Aug.12-13, more than 2,400 walkers raised $3.6 million total before expenses, with donations continuing to come in.

Bret and Stephanie Hicks were walking in memory of their cousin, Tim Livingston, who lost his battle with depression four years ago. He left behind his wife and daughter, who was 2 years old at the time. Stephanie Livingston, Tim's wife, and Barbara Livingston, Tim's mother, also walked, along with two of Barbara's friends.

Each walker wore beads of a certain color symbolizing who they had lost, or if they were supporting someone left behind. The Hickses wore purple, showing that they were supporting someone, their cousin's wife. Blue or white stood for a son or daughter, and red meant that someone had lost a spouse.

"It was a mass of people," said Bret Hicks. "It's pretty amazing the number of people who were touched by (suicide). It's that big a problem."

Hicks is exposed to suicide cases year-round in his job as a deputy with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office. He said they support AFSP because they see a need for it.

"It's a good cause," said Hicks.

In the U.S., suicide is a serious national health problem. It is estimated that close to one million people make a suicide attempt each year and that every 18 minutes someone dies by suicide. Untreated depression is the leading cause of suicide. More than 20 million people suffer from depression each year. Suicide is the third leading cause of death among teens and young adults, the second leading cause of death for college students and accounts for 20 percent of deaths among people over age 65.

About the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

AFSP is the only national not-for-profit organization dedicated to funding suicide prevention research, education and awareness programs Ð both to prevent suicide and to assist those affected by suicide. AFSP was founded in 1987 by concerned scientists, business and community leaders, and by those who have lost loved ones to suicide. AFSP is headquartered in New York with 22 affiliate offices nationwide. Since 2000, AFSP has invested more than $6.2 million in new biological, genetic and behavioral studies aimed at improving our understanding of why suicide occurs and how best to prevent it.




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