MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WBOY) — Many “Out of the Darkness” walks are held throughout the country every year not just to raise awareness about suicide and mental health, but also to remember loved ones who lost their lives to suicide.

Saturday afternoon’s walk in Morgantown was only one of eight different walks organized by the West Virginia chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. When 12 News asked West Virginia chapter board chair Cindy Stagg about the event’s primary goal, she said it was to let people know they aren’t alone.

“I lost my uncle in 1976, and that’s when you did not say the word suicide, you didn’t talk about it, your family didn’t talk about it. It was just kind of shuffled under the rug and you move on,” Stagg said. “You’re never alone no matter what you’re going through. We’re always here to help.”

Walkers line up for a group photo at the "Out of the Darkness" walk at Krepps park in Morgantown. (WBOY image)
Walkers line up for a group photo at the “Out of the Darkness” walk at Krepps park in Morgantown. (WBOY image)

Before the walk began, participants shared stories about loved ones they had lost to suicide and presented different colored beads to represent if they had lost a sibling, parent, spouse, or other loved one. As of the publishing of this article, the walk has managed to raise $28,466 to help fund suicide prevention programs.

Stagg also wanted people to know that they can use the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (988), 24 hours a day, seven days a week, through call, text or chat. The lifeline is for anyone experiencing thoughts of suicide, mental health or substance use crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress.