Together, We Can Break It

By Erin Gillingham • September 7, 2011

This Saturday is the Indianapolis Out of the Darkness Community Walk, which kicks off the walk season for the Indiana Chapter of the AFSP. This is my second year being a part of these walks, and I’m very excited to have the opportunity to share TWLOHA’s message of hope and to support another group that is close to my heart.

When I attended my first Out of the Darkness Walk in February 2010 in Orlando (during my TWLOHA internship), I had no idea these events would go on to affect my life in such a powerful way. I’ve grown up in Indiana, and until last year I never knew how to get involved in my own community. Being a part of the Orlando Walk inspired me to get involved with the Indiana Chapter of the AFSP and bring a message of hope and encouragement to people in my own community. It’s also allowed me to see the amazing efforts and hear the stories of my fellow Hoosiers.

I’ve been blessed to see the effects of these OOTD Walks within my own family. My mom lost her only sister to suicide when I was four, and I have grown up seeing the effects of this loss within our family. I asked her to come to the walk longing for her to find hope and encouragement. During the opening ceremony, a fellow survivor of suicide spoke about her own loss. She said it took years of healing, but she was finally able to acknowledge the loss of her loved one to suicide. My mom saw her courage, and something resonated with her. She called me that night in tears and told me how much the walk meant to her. My mom said it was the first time she had ever heard suicide talked about so openly. For the first time since her sister died, she finally has the courage to share her story. She lost her sister to suicide, and it’s time to talk about it.

We talk a lot at TWLOHA  about the importance of stories and the belief in letting others know and love us and knowing and loving them in return. If you have lost a loved one to suicide or struggled with thoughts of suicide yourself, it becomes even more important to let the people who love you walk beside you. I once heard Aaron Moore share at a MOVE conference, “grief shared is grief survived.” The Out of the Darkness Walks have really proven to me the truth in these words.

I want to invite you to join us in the conversation and at the OOTD Walk to break the stigma. Although TWLOHA will be attending three walks across Indiana, there are eight walks total in the state and over 200 throughout the country. To find an event near you, go to and sign up and even start a team of your own.

These walks are always special. They’re about bringing people together. They’re about providing hope, encouragement, resources, and support to those who have experienced such a tragic loss. It’s about raising money to support the many programs being implemented by the AFSP. We’re a group of people, some survivors, others advocates, all coming together with a message: it’s okay to talk about suicide.

Thanks for reading.  Hope to see you at an OOTD Walk soon. 🙂

Spring 2010 Intern

P.S. This week is National Suicide Prevention Week. Talk about it. Ask your friends how they’re doing. Share stories. Spend time with loved ones. If you’re struggling, you don’t have to struggle alone; ask for help. Let your voice be heard. Together, we can break the stigma.

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