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Suicide awareness walk is Saturday

September 14, 2018

Melissa Carlson has been volunteering her time and energy to organize the Out of the Darkness Walk in Beatrice for 11 years.

“This has always been a personal mission for me,” Carlson said. “It was just six months after my dad, Kevin Snyder, completed suicide that I started planning for the first walk. My aunt had been to one in Texas and said it would be good for your community.”

Kevin Snyder died May 13, 2007, and the first Out of the Darkness Walk was held in Beatrice the third week in September in 2008.

Less than a year after that first walk, on May 22, 2009, Melissa’s mother, Tammy Snyder, completed suicide.

“This event is about remembering and healing for the survivors,” Carlson said. “I want people to feel like they are not alone.”

Registration for the walk begins at 11 a.m. at the tabernacle in Chautauqua Park.

“There is a light lunch, a silent auction and people talk and take team photos. We have a lot of people who come every year,” Carlson said.

Around noon, Jeremy and Bailey Koch will share their experience of depression and suicide. The couple, from Cozad, wrote “Never Alone: A Husband and Wife’s Journey with Depression and Faith,” to fight for a better societal understanding of depression.

“Up to 30 percent of the population experiences depression in one way or another,” said Bailey Koch in a 2015 interview. “We want to let others know that they needn’t go through it alone.”

Participants are welcomed to bring photos of their loved ones to the event. There will also be a candle lighting and a butterfly release.

“People walk, jog, ride their bikes or some stay at the Chautauqua Tabernacle to visit with other survivors,” Carlson said. “We come together for common reasons. It is help, healing, and remembering. It’s really phenomenal how the community comes together.”

The Out of the Darkness Walk is a fundraiser for the American Federation of Suicide Prevention which is the largest non-profit in the United States working specifically in suicide prevention. Fifty percent of the funds are returned to the community in educational publications, the billboard and other walk related expenses.

For more information about the event contact Melissa Carlson at 402-239-0787.

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