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Out of the Darkness – Suicide Prevention Connections

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August 29, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Such stigma is attached to depression and suicide that even talking about the issues is difficult. However, in September and October, eight "Out of the Darkness" walks will be held around Indiana to bring people together who have been touched by suicide.

Lisa Brattain started the Indiana Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, a walk sponsor, as a way to deal with the grief of losing her son and to help others.

"Our walks are intended for people who live with depression, survivors of suicide loss, attempt survivors and the mental health community in general."

Brattain's son, Kurt, was being treated for depression by a family doctor, but had she known more, she says she would have taken him to a specialist - much like a parent takes a child with cancer to a specialist.

"I didn't understand depression to be the big health risk that it was and didn't go any further than our family physician."

Kurt, a freshman in college, died at 19. He was on an anti-depressant, which helped for a while, Brattain says, but then he started sleeping up to 15 hours a day. She didn't realize the chemicals in his brain could change, she explains, and recommends that parents of a depressed child find a specialist to make an evaluation.

The "Out of the Darkness" walks are a fundraiser for the Indiana chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Brattain says.

"Fifty percent of what we raise goes to research, which is very important to me. The other 50 percent stays local in Indiana for us to use to implement programs and awareness campaigns."

Josephine Hughes, executive director of the Indiana chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, says young people get caught not knowing there is help.

"They really feel like there is no other recourse. So it's up to parents, teachers and other adults to be aware of these issues and the resources available to help."

The National Association of Social Workers is one of the sponsors of the "Out of the Darkness" walks, and Hughes says she is one of several social workers who will take part.

The national suicide hotline is 1-800-273-8255. Information about participating in a walk is available at

Leigh DeNoon, Public News Service - IN