The 13th annual Out of the Darkness Community Walk, which drew hundreds of people to Jones Beach in Wantagh on Sunday, is an event designed to spread awareness about suicide prevention.
“The walk honors the people we lost and gives support to people who are struggling,” said Ann Morrison, Long Island area director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Some of those walking Sunday said they have struggled with the issue, she said. The 5K fundraiser was one of 350 such events to be held nationwide in September and October. There are more than 42,000 suicides annually nationwide, according to the foundation.
Donations and proceeds from the event will go to the foundation for research, educational programs, public policy advocacy and support of suicide survivors.
By early Sunday, hundreds of people, including many teens, had gathered at the beach for the event.
One of the walkers, Donna Nichols, who said she was a former television producer, said work stress affected her.
“Everything comes together and you become overwhelmed with life,” said Nichols, 46, of Rockville Centre. She said she learned to rely on her family for support.
The walk also brought Brittany Faison, 27, of Ronkonkoma, to Jones Beach.
“So many people have been touched by suicide. People need to know they aren’t alone,” she said.
Attendees held banners and wore T-shirts in honor of loved ones. Others told their stories of what brought them out.
“My grandfather committed suicide almost five years ago,” said Levittown resident Brendan O’Rourke, 21, who said he questioned every day why his grandfather took his own life.
Morrison said she is working to institute educational programs in Long Island high schools.