Chugiak and Eagle River residents walk to raise awareness of suicide

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - More than 500 people came out for a second annual suicide awareness walk at Town Square Park on Saturday.

The Alaska Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has hosted "Out of Darkness" walks across the state of Alaska. However, the turnout at walks held in Eagle River for the past two years have surpassed expectations. Even organizers believe that's due to the need for an outlet where the community - alongside their neighbors in Chugiak - can remember lives ended by suicide, including four young people in 2017.

According to Kim Hancox, a volunteer with the Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the Eagle River walk came into existence because young people in the community voiced a need for assistance.

"We decided, given the loss to the community, that we would try one here," said Hancox. "The kids actually at both high schools gave us the momentum."

After a crowd of 400 participants last year, this year's walk saw attendance numbers between 500 and 600 people or so.

Another walk is planned for Fairbanks on April 24th, and there's one set for next month in Palmer as well, on May 4th.

The largest suicide prevention walk event in Alaska typically takes place in Anchorage, drawing in crowds of more than 1,000 participants. This year's Anchorage walk is scheduled for September 14th.