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Walk raises awareness, money for suicide prevention

Jackie Briere and Christine Wilson at an Out of the Darkness Walk in Seattle earlier in 2014. - Contributed photo
Jackie Briere and Christine Wilson at an Out of the Darkness Walk in Seattle earlier in 2014.
— image credit: Contributed photo

POULSBO — Locals are taking the issue of suicide to the streets this September, but before they do, they want to take you to the Internet.

To the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s website for the Out of the Darkness Walk to be exact. More than 30 walkers and teams are raising money through the event’s website to raise awareness and funds for the issue of suicide.

“Out of the Darkness is a walk to raise awareness of suicide,” said Jackie Briere, co-organizer of Poulsbo’s walk.

Suicide is not an uncommon topic in Kitsap. It has claimed headlines, not only nationally with well-known celebrities such as the recent death of Robin Williams, but also closer to home. Students at North Kitsap High School lost a classmate to suicide in January. A deceased man was found on the roadside in Hansville in May after taking his own life. Other local headlines stretch across pages through the past decade.

Briere is organizing the 2014 Out of the Darkness Walk in Poulsbo with her friend Christine Wilson. Both have lost loved ones to suicide.

The Poulsbo Out of the Darkness Walk is Sept. 21. The walk begins at 10 a.m. in Raab Park and ends at noon.

Briere wants to spread the awareness of an issue most don’t discuss.

“There’s a stigma that it’s not something to talk about,” Briere said. “When someone has a problem with depression, people think that they shouldn’t talk about it.”

“A person dies by suicide every 14 minutes in the U.S.,” she said. “It’s mostly because of that stigma.”

With walks such as Out of the Darkness, participants such as Briere want to get a few messages out.

“It’s OK to have these feelings, it’s normal, but talk to somebody and get advice. Don’t take that last step,” she said. “There’s an entire organization to help people out, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention wants to help people.”

In the weeks leading up to the walk, participants are raising money through the event’s website to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

A variety of communities organize fundraising walks for the foundation throughout the year, but Poulsbo participants want people to know that there is a local walk.

“For national events, you usually don’t get into small towns like ours,” said Emily Jachimowicz who will take part in this year’s walk.

“I really want people to know that Poulsbo does have something like this,” she said. “It happens every year. It’s free to sign up.”

“You can take donations online or in person,” Jachimowicz noted. “It’s tax deductible.”

Funds raised at the walks go toward research and prevention programs.

“It all goes to AFSP for research with what they can do, and it benefits people that use AFSP because they have people to talk to and survivor packets for people who have lost someone to suicide,” Briere said.

Featured on the website for the Poulsbo walk are participants such as Jachimowicz who are raising money for the foundation. Supporters can donate to Jachimowicz, and others, by clicking on the website, www.afsp.donordrive.com.

Jachimowicz — a graduate of the North Kitsap High School class of 2014 — is no stranger to the issue. She has had her own battle with depression and anxiety, and her friend committed suicide during her senior year. Jachimowicz was president of Lifesavers during her last year at North Kitsap, a group dedicated to supporting peers and raising awareness of issues such as suicide. For her work with Lifesavers, Jachimowicz was honored with the 2014 Violet Richardson Award from the Soroptimists International of Greater North Kitsap.

“I think people should know (that the issue of suicide) is serious,” Jachimowicz said. “Washington is one of the states with a higher rate of suicide. It’s something people don’t want to talk about. It brings up issues that hurt people to think about. People have to know that it’s not people calling out for attention, it’s because there is something wrong.”

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