GALLERY: California communities walk at the Capitol for suicide awareness

Participants of the Sacramento Out of the Darkness Walk show their support for suicide prevention


Cory Jaynes - The State Hornet

Radio host Big Al Sams standing with participants of the Sacramento Out of The Darkness Walk on the west steps of the California State Capitol Building Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018. The participants holding signs that spell out “HOPE & LOVE” each represented a color of bead necklaces handed out at the event that signified a family member, friend, loved one or themselves that have considered or died from suicide.

Ashton Byers

Maria Miller and her son Liam Callahan participated in the suicide awareness community event Sacramento Out of the Darkness Walk on Saturday to honor her son’s father.

Miller says her sixth-grade son was a victim of bullying at John Adams Middle School in Santa Monica, and his father Daniel Callahan blamed only himself.

On June 23, 2018, Daniel Callahan shot himself and died by suicide in front of the school that his son attended.

Miller shared her thoughts on why Daniel Callahan may have taken his own life and says she is still trying to make sense of it all.

Ashton Byers – The State Hornet
Liam Callahan holding a photo of his father Daniel Callahan who died by suicide June 23, 2018. Liam and his mother Maria Miller participated in the suicide awareness community event Sacramento Out of the Darkness Walk on Saturday, Sept. 29 to honor Daniel Callahan

“He was so against it, he talked about Robin Williams, and Anthony Bourdain, and he couldn’t believe how they left kids behind, and he ended up doing it, so I have a lot of questions,” Miller said. “We all have a little bit of something and if you don’t reach out, you spiral.”

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the purpose of the Out of the Darkness events is, “to raise awareness and funds that allow the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) to invest in new research, create educational programs, advocate for public policy, and support survivors of suicide loss.”

Sacramento State students and event volunteers Rana Moradhasel and Jessica Virk volunteered showed their support as peer and health educators along with Sac State’s Student Health and Counseling Services from The WELL.

Both Moradhasel and Virk are members of Active Minds, a student-run organization that they say focuses on raising awareness and decreasing the stigma on mental health by openly discussing issues regarding it.  

“I had family members and friends struggle, so that’s what got me into Active Minds and now I’m getting my masters in therapy,” Moradhasel said.

Virk said Active Minds’ goal is to eliminate the stigma associated with mental health. 

Cory Jaynes – The State Hornet
An unsigned note hangs on string at the Sacramento Out of The Darkness Walk at the California State Capitol Building on Saturday, Sept. 29. The walk raised funds for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

“We help to destigmatize mental health, and coming out here is really empowering to help those in need also to support other people and our community,” Virk said.

In attendance were officers from the Sacramento Police Department including Sgt. Laura Peck and Michelle Lazark.

“Sacramento Police Department recently created a mental health unit, and we are members of that unit, and we are here to support [the National Alliance on Mental Illness] and the folks that are experiencing mental illness in whatever way that they are experiencing it,” Sgt. Peck said. “People who are reaching out for help, we are absolutely there, we can connect them to resources, and connect them with people that can get them the help that they need.”

During the event, California’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson spoke on why he believes demonstrations about suicide prevention is an important issue for the state.

“We are here to share a message, bringing it out of the darkness and into the light so we can talk about suicide,” Torlakson said. “We must do everything we can to eliminate the stigmas and fear.”

Sac State will host its own suicide awareness walk on campus similar to Out of the Darkness which takes place in April 2019.