To the Editor:

September is Suicide Prevention Month and a good time to share about our Out of the Darkness Walk rapidly approaching.

As part of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Hilton Head-Bluffton community Out of the Darkness Walks, I will be walking on Nov. 11 at Oyster Factory Park in Bluffton to draw attention to the importance of suicide prevention.

I won’t be walking alone. I will be joined by many who share my dedication. Last year, over 550 Out of the Darkness Walks took place in communities and on campuses across the United States, attended by a quarter of a million dedicated people who share my passion. Our movement is growing.

Like many, I walk because suicide has affected me personally. I lost my 21-year-old son Sean to suicide. He was a brother, nephew, grandson and friend to many in our area.

Since then, I have dedicated my time to educating others about suicide prevention and mental health. Our goal is to spread awareness of what is currently the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., and let others know they are not alone.

Please help us ensure that mental health is looked upon in equal importance to physical health, and continue to bring hope to those affected by suicide. Join me in this walk. We need you. You can register online at

I hope to see you Nov. 11.

Vanessa Riley

Out of the Darkness Walk Chair

Associate Area Director for AFSP-SC