Walking to remember

Out of the Darkness event raises suicide awareness

By Benny Westcott
Lebanon Local
The Lebanon Area Mental Health Alliance held its fourth annual Out of the Darkness Walk on Saturday, Sept. 4, drawing 72 supporters and raising $3,308 for suicide prevention and awareness.
Participants moved through the downtown area carrying signs and pictures of lost loved ones. At one point, they gathered at Ralston Park and raised their hands in answer to such questions as “Who here has lost a parent/child/sibling/friend to suicide?” Those with raised hands saw others responding in kind, then heard the words “You are not alone” over a loudspeaker.

FROM LEFT, Dave Butler, Haley Brown and Mariah Jones address the crowd during the event.

Event organizer Dave Butler told the crowd, “You guys are helping us spread the word for suicide prevention, helping us spread awareness. Everyone here is part of a club that none of us wanted to be in. But together, we continue.”
For the first two years of the event, Butler, whose son Brandon took his life in 2017, used the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to assist in organizing the Lebanon “Out of the Darkness” walks, but they’re handled now by LAMHA, his own nonprofit.
“I can’t just sit by and not do anything,” he said. “Today’s a culmination, but we fight every single day.”
He said, “If you know somebody who’s struggling and they don’t want to talk to you or call the suicide hotline, I’m willing to talk to them.”
LAMHA’s mission is to support people struggling with mental-health issues and gain more resources to help save lives in the Lebanon-area community. “We will make every effort to lessen the amount of lives affected by mental health and suicide, while honoring and remembering those we have lost,” the organization’s webpage reads.
A $2,500 donation that brought Butler to tears during the event came from Dala’s Blue Angels, a Lebanon-based nonprofit with volunteers that work to raise money for grants and funding to groups fighting on behalf of children in the community.