Jill Martin, left, coordinator for Frederick Out of the Darkness Walk, son Chase and daughter Jocelyn. The family walks in memory of Jill's son Taylor. The event takes place Saturday, Oct. 15, at Baker Park.

Frederick Out of the Darkness walks shines a light on suicide awareness

FREDERICK — Out of the Darkness – Frederick Chapter Coordinator Jill Martin knows all too well the pain associated when a loved one completes suicide.

Her son Taylor Martin, a graduate of Frederick Community College, was 25 years old when he took his life in 2016.

“That is why I got involved in this event.” she said.

To shine a light on mental health, Out of the Darkness Walk will be Saturday, Oct. 15, at Baker Park in Frederick. Registration begins at 9 a.m. The walk kicks off at 10 a.m.

The Frederick walk is one of the hundreds hosted by American Foundation of Suicide nationwide. Walkers gather to share memories of loved ones, give hope to people struggling with the loss, and support one another as a community.

Suicide is the third leading of cause of death of Marylanders ages 10-34, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

This is the first time in two years the walk has returned since COVID-19.

“The last walk that we held was also held in October, and with that being said, like 1,500,” Martin said.

About 500 people have already signed up for this year’s event, she said.

Anyone is encouraged to attend to support others or for a love one. Money raised from the event will benefit the American Foundation of Suicide, which raises awareness for suicide prevention.

Martin’s daughter Jocelyn will be one of the many walkers. She has participated along with her family since 2016.

“The reason why I decided to take place in this walk was in memory of my brother and others who have lost their lives to suicide,” Jocelyn said, “to be the voice that it is OK to not be OK and that there is hope.”

During the walk, Martin said there will be activities set up for walkers, vendors who had mental awareness activities.

“This just shows community support for remembering their loved ones,” she said. “You are walking for a good cause to remember those who are without loved ones, and for people who just want to share their support and help others who are dealing with hard times right now.

Participants will walk a 2-mile route around the park, ending at the bandshell, Martin explained.

“Participation for this walk is what will make this event keep continuing to happen the more people that show up for themselves. The community of people that have lost someone due to suicide or mental health issues I guarantee it will truly make a difference to someone who has dealt with death in their family. We as a community need to make it easier on each other knowing someone else cares to come out and support this event that is being held and to know that we are all in this together. Martin said.”

Martin said she wants other people to know steps they might be able to prevent suicide.

“What I want to accomplish from this walk is that by creating awareness for people to be able to start their healing journey we will be providing that day surrounding our mental health and to make sure to be that person for people who are suffering,” she said.

Jocelyn Martin said the walk allows the money raised from the event to “fund research, create educational programs, advocate for public policy, and support survivors of suicide loss.”

“My hope is to create a culture that is smart about mental health and to prevent others from ever experiencing the loss that we have,” she said.

More information about the Frederick Out of the Darkness Walk can be found at https://supporting.afsp.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.event&eventID=8591

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