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Local suicide prevention group holds fifth annual walk

by Greg Bischof | November 14, 2021 at 10:00 p.m.
Local members of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention conduct their Fifth Annual Out of the Darkness Walk through Bobby Ferguson Park. The event focused on suicide awareness and prevention.

TEXARKANA, Arkansas -- Dozens of local residents spent part of Sunday walking in Bobby Ferguson Park amid the sunny, mild autumn weather almost as if to make a statement -- and to some degree they were.

Many of these residents were affected by suicide and were there to participate the Fifth Annual Out of the Darkness Walk organized by local members of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's Arkansas Chapter.

Betty Jackson Carpenter, the event's organizer, said the walk draws its very name out of the need to shed more light on the difficult subject of suicide -- mainly the need to talk more about it.

"Dealing with the suicide of a loved one is a very complicated grief," Carpenter said. "We want to try to erase the stigma a that prevents us from speaking about suicide. If suicide results from mental health issues, this should be talked about and dealing with suicidal thoughts ought to be our mission. It's about helping basically two kinds of people -- those who have either lost someone to suicide or those who are struggling with suicidal thoughts themselves."

Besides taking a walk around the park's pond, group members brought memory cards written in honor of deceased loved ones. Members also receive beads in different colors indicating their relationships to those who died by suicide -- white for a child, red for a spouse, gold for a parent, orange for a sibling, purple for a friend and silver for a military service member.

"We are here in a common sorrow and we never forget the ones we lost," Carpenter said.

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