Walk to save lives

‘Out of the Dark­ness Com­mu­nity Walk’ brings aware­ness and funds to sui­cide preven­tion pro­grams

The Garden Island - - Morning Briefing - John Stein­horst

WAIMEA — The “Out of the Dark­ness Kauai Walk” is Satur­day at the Waimea Ath­letic Field Com­plex.

It is part of a na­tion­wide fundraiser for the Amer­i­can Foun­da­tion for Sui­cide Preven­tion to in­vest in new re­search, cre­ate ed­u­ca­tional pro­grams, ad­vo­cate for pub­lic pol­icy, and sup­port sur­vivors of sui­cide loss.

“Our big­gest rea­son for do­ing this here is to bring the West­side com­mu­nity closer,” said Vanya Fa­gasa, co-chair­woman for the Amer­i­can Foun­da­tion for Sui­cide Preven­tion Hawaii chap­ter.

The re­tired West­side school bus driver wit­nessed a lot of kids be­ing bul­lied and knew some that com­mit­ted sui­cide, in­clud­ing her own nephew.

“In time of cri­sis, we want to make it eas­ier for them to be able to be around peo­ple that un­der­stand what they’re go­ing through,” Fa­gasa said. “Even­tu­ally we can teach them some of the signs for peo­ple con­tem­plat­ing sui­cide.”

She said they will have classes and work­shops.

“We will point them in the di­rec­tion to re­sources we have on our is­land,” she said.

Vol­un­teers will pro­vide water, fruits and live mu­sic to the 200 or more peo­ple ex­pected to take part in the in­au­gu­ral Waimea walk. There will also be in­for­ma­tion about sui­cide preven­tion pro­grams, with booths from Le­gal Aid So­ci­ety, YWCA, Life’s Choices Kauai, and other valu­able re­sources.

“This is sup­posed to be par­adise,” Fa­gasa said. “Why do we hold the high­est sta­tis­tics for deaths caused by sui­cide in the state?”

Thanks to walk­ers and donors, the Sui­cide Preven­tion Foun­da­tion has been able to set a goal to re­duce Kauai’s an­nual sui­cide rate 20 per­cent by 2025.

This is the third walk to fight sui­cide on Kauai but the first to take place on the West­side and around Waimea Canyon.

“This is some­thing that has to be done on the West­side,” Fa­gasa said. “When you go to th­ese walks, you get noth­ing but chicken skin and tears.”

On­line regis­tra­tion closes at noon to­day. Any­one who would like to par­tic­i­pate can reg­is­ter in per­son be­fore the walk starts. Check-in and regis­tra­tion takes place at Waimea Canyon Soft­ball Field at 8:30 a.m. The walk be­gins at 9 a.m. and ends at noon.

Do­na­tions for sui­cide preven­tion will be ac­cepted un­til Dec. 31.

Info: Fa­gasa, 634-0826, kauaioot­d­walk@gmail.com

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