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Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011 01:50 pm

SUPPORTING SURVIVORS

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is building its presence in Springfield, where on Oct. 1 the organization will hold a community walk to raise money for research and educational programs that can raise awareness and prevent suicide.

This will be the third year AFSP will host a walk in Springfield, which will be followed about a month later, on Nov. 13, by the capital city’s first AFSP International Survivor Day event, which is supported donations made at the free community walk.

Why Springfield? Bethany Genenbacher says her goal as an AFSP volunteer is to bring more awareness to downstate communities. In 1998, her sister, Jennifer Simonson, committed suicide in their hometown of Quincy.

“We just decided that we needed to really branch out more to everything south of Chicago,” Genenbacher says, noting recent high-profile suicides including that of Mayor Tim Davlin. “Springfield seemed like the best place to start.”

She says the Oct. 1 walk, check-in for which will take place at 2 p.m. at the large shelter in Washington Park, not only raises funds for AFSP efforts but also provides an opportunity for those affected by suicide to find support.

“With suicide it’s kind of still that taboo topic that nobody wants to talk about, but if you experience a suicide, you need to talk about it,” Genenbacher says. “At the walk, that’s what often happens – people get to see they’re not alone.”

For more information, visit www.OutOfTheDarkness.org
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