EAST MOLINE, Illinois-- "I've got him here and he's loving this,” said Birdie Meyer. Meyer lost her brother to suicide nearly three years ago.
“He just couldn't take the stress any longer,” said Meyer. This is her first time going to the Out of the Darkness walk.
The walk is an American Foundation for Suicide Prevention event put on in hundreds of cities across the country, meant to bring people together to open about about mental health and struggles they’ve been having with loss.
"I know he is with us today and I know he is very proud,” said Meyer.
On September 9, hundreds of people gathered at Ben Butterworth Park in support of suicide prevention.
"It's very comforting knowing that everyone like wants to step up and stop the stigma for suicide,” said Alyssa Sierra. Sierra is on the walks committee. For her, the event hits close to home.
"I lost my dad when I was fourteen, and then a year later I lost a classmate,” said Sierra.
Five hundred people were already signed up, as the day went on an extra two hundred people showed up to get involved. Every single one with their own story.
"It's a very emotional day for everybody but for my family it hits very close to home,” said Sierra.
“It's not anything to be ashamed of, if you've got family members with problems seek to get them all the help that they can get because they really need you,” said Meyer.
Now help is available for those who are grieving, through a new program called hope.
“If you've had anybody in your family or friend that's been lost to suicide then we are a group where you can go and express your feelings and thoughts and help us and let us help you work through your grief,” said Gaelane Rosinski. Rosinski is the founder of the group, she has experienced her own fair share of loss. She says the group helps her just as much as it helps those who come.
For Birdie, that's exactly what everyone needs.
“The fact that we can walk around and talk to these people and maybe share stories and help out the best that we can. people are paying more attention to the fact that they need to stand up and help the next person who is struggling,” said Meyer.
At this years walk, Out of the Darkness raised $18,972 for suicide prevention. Donations will still be accepted online until the end of 2018.