Downtown walk to raise awareness of depression, suicide rates

Wil Petty Staff Writer

September 9, 2013

A walk through downtown West Jefferson is aimed to raise awareness of suicide and depression in the area.

The sixth annual “A Walk out of Darkness,” hosted by the Ashe Suicide and Depression Awareness Task Force, will take place the morning of Saturday, Sept. 14.

“The purpose of us bringing attention to the issues of depression and suicide is to help people who may be at risk,” said Carol Anne Baker, who is publicizing the walk for the task force. “(We want to) make people more aware of the importance of getting help and aware of the resources this county has to offer.”

The task force is wanting to raise awareness about Ashe County having the highest suicide rate in the state, and how it has remained that way for years. Ashe County’s suicide rate is double the state average.

Baker said, the trend is common along most counties in the Appalachian mountain chain.

Organizer Sherry Goodman said the goal for this event is visibility of the issue.

“We want as many folks as possible to see us, ask questions and talk about the subject,” she said. “Anyone can participate.”

The event will start at 8:30 a.m. at the Park on Backstreet, where local businesses will be donating breakfast.

“The walk itself is supposed to last about half an hour,” Baker said. “We will also have the opening and closing ceremonies.”

At 9 a.m. the walk will start, taking participants throughout West Jefferson, beginning and ending at the park. Upon returning, Michael Lea pastor of First Baptist Church and Dr. Lisa Curtin, professor of psychology at Appalachian State University will speak.

There is no cost to participate in the walk and T-shirts will be provided by K&K Stitch & Screen in West Jefferson. Water bottles will also be provided by the local Dr. Pepper bottling plant.