The local chapter of a suicide-prevention organization is organizing the first-ever LGBT team for its annual walk.
Pride & Prevention, an “LGBTQ+ outreach team,” will participate in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out of the Darkness Walk. The aim of the Oct. 1 event, and hundreds of other walks across the country, is to help AFSP reduce the suicide rate by 20 percent by 2025.
Team Captain Tia Sharpe currently has Pride & Prevention’s fundraising goal set at $1,500, but said she plans to raise it as they get closer to the goal to “keep the motivation going.”
Sharpe, a lesbian, said she struggled with coming out as a teenager and dealt with depression. She attempted suicide at age 16.
“It was something that I’ve struggled with for a long time since I was a teenager,” the 27-year-old said. “That’s a big motivator for me to reach out and help others.”
Her motivation led her to becoming LGBTQ+ Outreach Coordinator and board secretary for the city’s AFSP chapter. Additionally, she volunteers four hours a week for Crisis Text Line, providing crisis intervention via SMS. For the latter position, she said people will offer thanks for helping them but noted a bigger reward.
“The point of it is to get them to realize that they can handle [their situation],” Sharpe said. “It’s nice to hear people tell you their own solution to show that fantastic inner strength. That’s always rewarding.”
Sharpe noted the walk is a positive step toward reducing stigma around mental health.
“I’m really looking forward to having a team, meeting new people who have experienced hardships, or are just really supportive of creating a healthy dialogue around mental health,” Sharpe said. “That has been my biggest goal. I want to end the stigma around depression and mental illness.”
By presstime, the team had raised more than $950 of its $1,500 goal, and Philadelphia’s AFSP chapter as a whole has raised more than $289,000 of its $640,000 goal.
Visit http://bit.ly/2xbVbML to join the Pride & Prevention team or to donate to a team member. Registration for the Out of the Darkness Philadelphia Walk begins 6:30 a.m., with the walk being held 8:30-11 a.m. Oct. 1 at the Philadelphia Art Museum, 2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy. Visit the group on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/prideandprevention.
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