News / Health

    As Days Grow Shorter, Out of Darkness Groups Walk to Prevent Depression, Suicide

    In the United States, about 20 million people are diagnosed every year with clinical depression, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.In the United States, about 20 million people are diagnosed every year with clinical depression, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
    x
    In the United States, about 20 million people are diagnosed every year with clinical depression, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
    In the United States, about 20 million people are diagnosed every year with clinical depression, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
    Faiza Elmasry
    Steve Iselin served in the Navy for 20 years. He retired 13 years ago, and started looking for another job. That’s also when he began feeling despair.

    “I had a great sense of dread every day. Agony is another word that comes to mind," he said. "I didn’t want to do anything that I would normally like to do. I had no interest in seeing other people. I actually got a job, but after one week I quit my job because I was telling myself I couldn’t do it. I had no self-confidence. Anything I did was hard. Every decision I had to make was just impossible, including what would I wear that day or what would I eat for lunch.”
     
    Iselin was suffering from depression, which is very different from being sad or having a bad day.

    “In the U.S., about 20 million people are diagnosed every year with clinical depression," said Bob Gebbia, who heads the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. "It is something that could be a combination of genetic influences, changes in the chemistry of our brain, but also it can be influenced by external environmental factors. You may be somewhat prone to depression, but may not have the kinds of experiences in life that bring it out. Let's say you lose your job, get divorced, [suffer] a loss of someone.”
     
    Iselin was fortunate his wife recognized the symptoms of depression and helped him get the professional help he needed to manage it. Unfortunately, that was not the case with his nephew, who suffered from depression a few years later. The condition went undiagnosed and he eventually committed suicide.

    “He went from being a healthy, happy 27 year old to being dead in about six weeks,” Iselin said.

    A year after his nephew’s death, Iselin visited his brother in San Francisco, where he learned about the Out of the Darkness Walk organized by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). Both men took part in the event.

    “That was the first day my brother realized that maybe his son’s death wasn’t his fault," Iselin said. "Because there were over 2,000 people at that walk, he saw that suicide was affecting so many people, that suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in this country, and oftentimes there's a mental illness that underlies the suicide.”
     
    Since then, Iselin has volunteered with the AFSP, organizing similar walks in his neighborhood.

    “I’ve done seven community walks," he said. "We had 500 people participate [at the most recent walk]. We raised $65,000 for the cause.”

    Sheri Cole, co-chair of the Out of the Darkness Walks in Colorado, lost her 16-year-old son, David, to depression almost four years ago.

    “I felt that something wasn’t quite right with David, but I had family and friends tell me, 'That's just normal teenage hormones,'" she said. "Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Once I learned that suicide is the second leading cause of death of young people in Colorado, I was astonished and I felt like I needed to do something to help his friends.”
     
    Volunteers like Cole and Iselin are organizing more than 300 walks across the nation this season and each one will include some sort of remembrance activity.

    “Sometimes it’s a memory wall where they can post photos or sign a banner with a message to a loved one," said Nicole Dolan, manager of the Foundation's walks."We have different activities which vary by event. Some events will have speakers, whether it's someone telling their personal story, whether it’s an activist or advocate or a local TV or radio personality. Sometimes there are family activities and food and refreshments.”
     
    While AFSP volunteers are most active around this time of year organizing the walks, they work all year as suicide prevention advocates.

    “What we do is provide them with the information about legislation, for instance, both within the states and federally out of Washington, that they can advocate for," foundation director Gebbia said. "All kinds of policies that could really help, for example, we know that we need to advocate for more funding through the National Institute of Health for suicide research, so we have better interventions and better treatments.”

    Talking, walking and advocating, he says, make depression and suicide a visible cause, fight the stigma and help save lives.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: AFSP DC from: Washington, DC
    September 25, 2013 10:15 AM
    Thank you Steve for sharing your story, and for working to transform others lives on a daily basis.

    We appreciate you opening the Washington, DC, Out of the Darkness Community Walk 2013 this coming Saturday, September 28.

    Join us! Walk with us to save lives. http://afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.event&eventID=2206

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora