Five-state suicide prevention awareness tour happening now through November

Communities encouraged to join widespread efforts promoting mental wellness

NEW YORKSept. 10, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — To combat America’s rising suicide rate crisis, the nation’s third largest health system, Providence St. Joseph Health (PSJH), is teaming with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and taking awareness to the streets by sponsoring a dozen AFSP Out of the Darkness Walks, starting in September for National Suicide Prevention Week. Hundreds of PSJH caregivers will participate in the health system’s latest move to improve mental wellness throughout its seven-state service area.

Providence St. Joseph Health (PRNewsfoto/Providence St. Joseph Health)

Our communities can no longer endure the devastation of suicide. With someone dying by suicide every 12.8 minutes in the U.S., we can’t afford to be silent. I’m proud our caregivers are coming together for the Out of Darkness Walks to show our communities they’re never alone in dealing with mental illness and suicide. I invite everyone – including those who work in health care and those who care about this problem – to take a step in the right direction and walk with us,” says Rod Hochman, M.D., president and CEO of Providence St. Joseph Health.

More than a march for a cause, the Out of Darkness Walks bring a difficult topic to light. This is a journey of hope and healing that unites communities and acknowledges the ways in which suicide and mental illness have affected our lives and our loved ones. Walks are led by PSJH’s mental health partner, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), a nationwide community of support for those impacted by suicide, offering research, education, and advocacy.

Through our Project 2025 we have set the bold goal to reduce the suicide rate 20 percent by the year 2025. We applaud Providence St. Joseph Health for making suicide prevention a priority for their staff and the communities they serve. Working with them will help us reach this bold goal and save lives,” said Robert Gebbia, AFSP CEO.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (PRNewsfoto/Providence St. Joseph Health)

Since PSJH announced its commitment to improve mental health in 2016, the health system has developed an extensive database of resources and gaps across the communities it serves. This has resulted in recent innovations and partnerships, including:

  • Piloting mental health curriculum for parents, students and teachers at Anaheim Union High School District, which currently averages 150 annual emergency department visits for suicide. Students can earn college credits by completing the program and parents may count enrollment towards the “looking for work” requisite designation to receive public assistance.
  • Increasing access to care, PSJH joins with Fairfax Behavioral Health in Washington state to open a 100-bed psychiatric hospital. A new medical detox and residential drug and alcohol treatment facility in California meets community needs, in addition to a new crisis stabilization unit that has provided psychiatric intervention to nearly 300 people this year.

“We are making great strides, but to truly address the nation’s growing mental health crisis, it will take all of us working together at the grassroots level. We can all have a part in this work, and the walks are a wonderful way to get started and show you care about community mental health,” says Dora Barilla, DrPH, vice president, Community Health Investment at PSJH and team captain of the Pasadena Out of the Darkness Walk.

Community members can join with PSJH caregivers at the following Out of Darkness Walks:



Starting Point



Sept. 9

Arcata Plaza, Arcata

Registration: 9 a.m.
Walk: 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.



Heritage Park, Olympia

Registration: 8:30 a.m.
Walk: 10 a.m. to Noon


Sept. 15

Silver Park, Missoula

Registration: Noon
Walk 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Santa Monica,

Sept. 20

Santa Monica Pier, Santa

Registration: 8:45 a.m.
Walk: 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Fountain Valley,

Sept. 22

Mile Square Park, Fountain

Registration: 8:00 a.m.
Walk: 9:30 – Noon


Sept. 22

Riverfront Park Forestry
Shelter, Spokane

Registration: 8 a.m.
Walk: 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.


Sept. 29

Boxcar Park, Everett

Registration: 9 a.m.
Walk: 10:15-11:30 a.m.

Santa Rosa,

Oct. 5

Howarth Park, Santa Rosa

Registration: 8 a.m.
Walk: 10 a.m. – Noon


Oct. 6

Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Portland

Registration: 8:30 a.m.
Walk: 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Lubbock, Texas

Oct. 14

Texas Tech University,

Registration: Noon
Walk: 3:15 – 4:15 p.m.


Oct. 14

Fisher Pavilion – Seattle
Center, Seattle

Registration: 9 a.m.
Walk: 10:15 a.m. to noon


Nov. 3

Central Park, Pasadena

Registration: 7:45 a.m.
Walk: 9 a.m.- noon

For more information on Providence St. Joseph Health mental health programs and opportunities to get involved, click here.  If you or a loved one has thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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