ST. CHARLES COUNTY (KMOV) – More than 2,000 people came together Sunday morning at Creve Coeur Lake Park for the 15th annual Out of the Darkness Walk.
The walk is one to remember those who died by suicide and offer support to friends and family who lost a loved one. Mary Butler and James Dickerson’s 14-year-old daughter, Spirit Butler, died by suicide earlier this year.
Butler describes Spirit as having been a loving and happy kid who was always dancing and singing.
“I shouldn’t be here,” Butler says. “But I’m hurt and I’m just going to try to keep my baby’s name alive. I’m going to do everything in my power to help my baby get the word out that we need to change.”
As parents, they want to raise awareness around suicide and mental health in hopes to break the stigma around it.
“It is very heartbreaking to know that so many people are going through the same similar thing that I’m going through,” Butler says. “It’s hard. It hurts. You never get over it.”
The Out of the Darkness Walk is hosted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Missouri area director Phyllis Blackwelder says it brings friends and family together who have lost someone to suicide.
“It also brings those that struggle with their own personal struggles out here to let them know they’re not alone and there’s always someone here to help them,” Blackwelder says.
Half of the money raised during the walk stays in Missouri. Blackwelder says it’s used for free prevention education within communities across the state and in advocacy for mental health bills in Jefferson City.
The other half of the money raised is used within the organization nationally.
“We also train people how to be facilitators of support groups for those who have lost somebody to suicide,” Blackwelder says.
Dickerson says bullying is hurting the lives of so many kids, including Spirit’s.
Dickerson wants to start a foundation to not only stop bullying but also offer resources to victims.
“Spirit’s joy was taken from her in this life but going forward, we will make sure that the joy she once had we get to share with other people so that their children can just be children,” Dickerson says.
Butler has an important message for people in the community.
“Treat people kind,” Butler says. “You never know what people are going through. Life is short. Love yourself. Love your kids. Love your neighbors. Love everybody today because we’re not taking it serious.”
If you’re in need of help, you can call the Mental Health Crisis Line by dialing 988.