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1,200 walk together to help prevent suicide, remember loved ones

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Minnesotans who have lost loved ones to suicide gathered Sunday morning to raise funds and awareness in the battle against depression and other mental disorders.

About 1,200 people took part in the Out of the Darkness Community Walk at the Mall of America, part of a national effort by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Some at the walk sported large buttons that said "I'm walking for," with a space below for people to fill in the name and description of loved ones they're honoring. Others wore T-shirts or carried signs.

The goal of the 3-5 mile walk, the foundation says, is to "prevent suicide, raise awareness, and end the stigma that surrounds depression and other mental disorders."

There are seven Out of the Darkness walks across Minnesota, Erik Arveseth chapter co-chair for AFSP – Greater Minnesota, told BringMeTheNews. The Mall of America event is the largest for the chapter, and is the culmination of a yearlong fundraising effort that will last through Dec. 31.

It's raised about $134,000 through Sunday's walk, Arveseth said, a combination of online donations and on-site collections. Half of that stays in Minnesota for education, outreach and advocacy. The other half goes to national programs and research.

"Yesterday's event will do a great deal toward our bold goal of reducing suicide deaths in this country 20 percent by the year 2025," Arveseth said.

There was a walk in Willmar on Sept. 19, and an upcoming one is scheduled in Currie for Oct. 3.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says suicide is the 10th-most common cause of death in the United States, accounting for 41,149 deaths in the country in 2013.

More than half of those involved a firearm.

Options for people seeking help

Anyone with thoughts about taking their own life can call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, is completely free, and offers support, information, and local resource options.

If you know someone who is suicidal, you can also call that number. The National Institute of Mental Health also suggests not leaving the person alone, and taking them to an emergency room or mental health professional.

Warning signs of suicide, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, include:

  • Talking about wanting to die
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious, agitated or recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings

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