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People raise money, awareness for suicide prevention at "Out of the Darkness Walk" in SLO

The walk had nearly 700 participants
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Posted at 8:30 PM, Oct 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-12 23:58:52-04

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention held its 7th annual "Out of the Darkness" walk Saturday morning in San Luis Obispo.

The nearly 700 participants helped raise more than $48,000.

The funds help the organization invest in new research and create educational programs while also advocating for public policy.

Organizers of the walk say they continue to work toward breaking down stigmas around suicidal thoughts.

"That same stigma of having mental health issues needs to be broken down, so that it's okay to say I've been depressed for a while, I just need to go talk to someone," said Christine Claxton, an organizer with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Eileen Calandro walks every year in honor of her father and says she's proud to see how many resources are now available.

"When my dad died, I went to the library at Cal Poly and there were 3 books in the library," said Calandro. "Now there's websites, there's books, there's organizations, there's podcasts, there are so many resources."

According to county data -- for every 100,000 people, about 17 men and women take their own lives in San Luis Obispo County.

Though local rates have decreased in recent years, that ranking is higher than the state's average.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Hot-line at 1-800-273-8255 or you can also text "talk" to 741-741.