Walking for suicide prevention

Jayne Bittner, Jayne Bittner, and Jayne Bittner

Around 150 area residents gathered at Leadbetter beach on Sept. 12 for Santa Barbara’s first annual “Out of the Darkness” suicide prevention walk.

The walkers assembled during the particularly foggy morning at 9 a.m. and listened to several of the event coordinators remind them why they were there: to raise awareness about suicide, violence, and prevention.

Mayor Marty Blum also attended the event, offering words of support and encouragement to the walkers and declared September suicide prevention month in Santa Barbara.

The Glendon Association, a psychology nonprofit in Santa Barbara, helped to coordinate the walk.

Jina Carvalho, director of marketing and communications at Glendon said Glendon’s focus is on “suicide and violence prevention and disturbed family relations.” According to Carvalho, there will be a free violence and suicide prevention forum on Oct. 8 at 6:30 p.m. at the Marjorie Luke Theater at 721 East Cota Street in Santa Barbara. Carvalho said the forum will be hosted by Glendon and will feature guest speakers, including Homeboy Industries, a Los Angeles-based gang intervention group.

Members of the Coalition Against Gun Violence were there to offer their support for the cause and were represented by Carol Hershey as well as the chair of the non-profit coalition, Toni Wellen. Hershey said the coalition’s focus is on education.

Among the walkers on Saturday was Kayla Cornelius, a 16-year-old City College student who works closely with her family to support non-profit organizations.

“I haven’t been faced with anyone who’s been in the situation of suicide,” Cornelius said. “But it’s a painful thing for someone to go through.”

Cornelius hopes that through her participation, she can provide support and awareness for those affected by suicide.