By Kat Lyzun

On May 3, family and friends will gather at Confederation College to remember loved ones lost to suicide, and to bring awareness to the delicate issues of suicide and mental health.

Now in its fifth year, the Out of the Darkness Memorial Walk was created locally by Margaret Hajdinjak, who lost her son Steven to suicide in 2005. Last year over 300 people walked to remember and celebrate the lives of their loved ones, and to help decrease the stigma surrounding suicide and mental health.

Kristina Belanger has been involved with the walk since losing her brother Jesse to suicide in 2011. For her, the walk has been a lifeline. “I can’t stress enough how valuable this event is in coping with such a loss,” she says. “It’s a reminder to family and friends that we are not alone in this. In the years since Jesse passed away, I have noticed how much it scares people to be vulnerable enough to discuss a topic as delicate as suicide and depression, and as a result this can leave family members feeling very alone in their time of need.”

“I hope that as a community we can learn to reduce the stigma for the sake of (those) left behind, and those struggling with mental health and depression,” she adds.

The walk begins at 6 pm and goes until 8 pm. All are welcome. There is no registration fee; simply show up. In addition to the walk there will be guest speakers and information booths from several local mental health organizations, as well as a memorial wall for attendees to place photos of their loved ones lost to suicide.

The Out of the Darkness Memorial Walk will be held Sunday, May 3, beginning at 6 pm at Confederation College. Find them on Facebook for more information.