Out of the Darkness Lubbock Walk raised more than $34,000 for su - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Out of the Darkness Lubbock Walk raised more than $34,000 for suicide prevention

Balloon release (Source: Tiera Knight) Balloon release (Source: Tiera Knight)
Balloon release (Source: Tiera Knight) Balloon release (Source: Tiera Knight)
Johnathan & Cynthia (Source: Ashlyn Tubbs) Johnathan & Cynthia (Source: Ashlyn Tubbs)

September is a month dedicated to shine light on a dark topic - suicide. 

More than 1,200 people took to Urbanovsky Park on Texas Tech campus for the sixth-annual "Out of the Darkness" community walk, a nationwide fundraiser hosted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

The walk raised more than $34,000 that will help create resources for those affected by suicide.

To many of the participants, the three-mile course was not near as challenging as their personal connections to suicide as they released memorial balloons.

“We're warriors for Penny,” Cynthia Russin said.  

Cynthia Russin walked hand-in-hand with Johnathan Ford, who hopes to finally heal from his ten-year struggle.

"In 2006 my girlfriend committed suicide, and the year before, my uncle committed suicide,” Johnathan said. “It's just a way to honor the people we have lost.”

It is not easy for Johnathan to relive the day he tried to save his girlfriend, Penny, from herself. 

"I walked in and she had a needle in her neck,” he said. “She was unconscious, so I just loaded her to my car and tried to drive to the hospital. She died two blocks from the hospital…it was hard.”

The days that followed only got more difficult.

"You don't imagine who it all affects and what it all affects when you're in the moment,” he said. “You just think it's you escaping whatever troubles you're facing right now, and it's just for that moment…but when you decide to take that step, it's a whole ripple effect. It affects everything.”

Johnathan turned to drugs afterwards to fight his PTSD, but he said he is more than two years sober.

One of the reasons this walk helped him heal is because the participants shared his pain.

"It lets you know that you're not alone, but it is a way to gain closure from something that has no closure,” he said. “You know, it's a small step…but it matters.”

To keep moving forward, like Johnathan, is a task some of the walk volunteers said is far from easy.

“Just not letting ourselves get to that hopeless state of mind,” volunteer Tammy Clark said, “and reaching out if we’re starting to fall.”

Clark and other volunteers with the Center for Collegiate Recovery Communities have experienced addiction along with mourning someone who died from self-harm.

“There’s always some form of hope,” Clark said. “There’s always something to be grateful for.”

One of the most important parts of recovery, Clark said, is leaning on others.

“You have to find something to be grateful for and give back every day to others,” she said. “I mean, that’s one of the biggest things for me and others.”

This is why Johnathan is so thankful that Cynthia not only lead him to this walk, but through it.

"Sometimes it's just good to take a moment out of your daily lives and honor the people that they lost,” he said, “and respect that and not ignore it.”

Click here if you are interesting helping the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. 

Anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts is urged to contact these suicide hotlines.

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