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How metro Atlanta residents can help lower suicide rates

On Nov. 6 more than 1,600 people are expected to gather in Piedmont Park to walk in solidarity. United by a solemn cause, the group will participate in a “non-competitive” 1.68-mile-long walk that will end with a dove release.

The “Out of the Darkness Walk” is hosted by the Georgia Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to raise money for local and national advocacy programs.

“Most of the people who walk with us are survivors of suicide loss, or they’ve either attempted or thought about suicide,” Chris Owens, Georgia Area Director said.

There is no entry fee or minimal donation requirement to participate in the walk, but participants are encourage to raise at least $150.

The local chapter hosts education programs for the public and professional groups, including one that has been implemented into all public schools in Georgia.  More than Sad teaches high school students, educators and parents to identify signs of depression. Programs are posted regularly on the organization’s website, Facebook and Twitter pages.

The local chapter's walks and programs are a part of the national organization's ambitious goal to lower the national suicide rate by 20 percent by 2025.

Ahead of the walk, here’s an infographic regarding suicide rates in Georgia, according to the most recent data released by the CDC in 2014.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicide, the National Suicide Prevention Line is free, confidential and available all day, every day throughout the country at 1-800-273-8255.

The Georgia Crisis and Access Line (1-800-715-4225) is also a helpful tool.

Owens emphasizes that one of the most important tools for suicide prevention is talking with friends and family and identifying warning signs in speech, behavior or mood. Always assume you’re going to be the only person who reaches out to someone who is in need.

“It’s OK to talk directly about suicide,” Owens said. “You’re not going to plant the idea.”

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About the Author

Jewel Wicker is an Atlanta native, Georgia State University graduate and entertainment reporter. She typically covers local events.