Letter: Walking for cause of suicide prevention

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To the editor:

On Saturday, June 22, we will walk all night in Boston in the AFSP Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk. We will join over a thousand participants from across the country and walk more than 16 miles from sunset until sunrise to raise money and awareness for suicide prevention.

Money raised from these walks support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention(AFSP). AFSP funds research, creates educational programs, advocates for public policy, and supports survivors of suicide loss. Each walker must raise a minimum of $1,000 to participate in the overnight walk. This is our first overnight walk and we are excited to be representing Berkshire County, but disheartened that Berkshire County has the highest suicide rate in Massachusetts.

Suicide rates in the U.S. are up 33 percent in less than 20 years and suicide is now the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. It is often called a public health crisis, yet money for research and suicide prevention continues to lag behind other leading causes of death and even some non-fatal conditions. The National Institute of Health, the largest public funder of biomedical research in the world, spent $68 million on suicide in 2017. It spent nearly five times that studying sleep and 10 times more on breast cancer, which killed fewer people. We know that to reduce deaths by suicide we need to have funding for research, education, and programming. That is why we fundraise, and that is why we walk.

We serve on the leadership team of the Berkshire Coalition for Suicide Prevention (BCSP) and the AFSP Massachusetts Board. Suicide has touched our lives and we see how devastating suicide loss is to families and communities. We will walk on the 22nd for those that don't know who to talk to, for veterans who have lived through things the common person can't understand, for our first responders that have seen things no one should have to see, for the young person who has lost their first love or is bullied because they are "different," for those experiencing unimaginable psychological pain, and for those who just need someone to say it's OK to be not OK. We walk to let the families of those who have suffered loss know we are here and we care.

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The BCSP website provides more information on suicide prevention in Berkshire County. Go to https://berkshirecoalition.org/ or visit https://afsp.org/ for more resources. You are not alone.

If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.

Bertha Connelley,


Lee Watroba,



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