WEST JORDAN — More than 3,000 Utahns met in West Jordan Saturday to raise awareness about suicide, the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.
The annual "Walk Out of the Darkness" event, sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, brought out all kinds of people, another testament that suicide affects people in all walks of life.
The message was one of hope, connection and community.
Co-founder Cassidy Priest said the gathering was for those who have lost a loved one or for anyone who has struggled with thoughts or attempts at suicide.
"It's a day of healing, it's a day of learning, it's a day of connection," said Priest, who is a volunteer and has headed up this program for the past two years.
The event is organized and run by mostly volunteers — which leaves all money to programs to help those impacted by suicide.
Michael Todd was stationed at the booth with the beads. They look like something you'd find at Mardi Gras, but each color has a special meaning. He wore several colors around his neck Saturday.
Todd lost his father to suicide as a teenager. Since then, he's faced his own demons, including depression.
"I wish this was here when my dad died," said Todd. "None of this was possible. I had nowhere to go and was alone."
A community like the one that gathered Saturday would have changed his life. That's why he's here — to heal by helping others.
He said he also relies on this community to help him through his darkest days.
"It's sometimes a daily battle, sometimes an hourly battle," said an emotional Todd as he described his struggles. "But I know there's hope and I keep moving forward as much as I can."
Laura Nydegger talked to KSL-TV while surrounded by friends and family. She brought her daughter, who has lost her father and an uncle to suicide.
"It's amazing," said Nydegger. "It brings so many emotions up, and it's great to see all of the support we have and all the help that's out there for those that are suffering."
Priest hopes those who need the resources will get them.
"There is hope, there is support, there is a whole community that is here to support you," she said.