“It was a pivotal experience to see I was not alone.”
Marissa Ruff, one of the key members of the Out of the Darkness Community Walk expresses her tragic loss. Marissa Ruff lost her husband to suicide and she found her calm in working for the Out of the Darkness Community Walk.
When you walk in the Out of the Darkness Walk, you join the effort with hundreds of thousands of people to raise awareness and funds that allow the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to invest in new research, create educational programs, advocate for public policy, and support survivors of suicide loss.
Maria Idoni, the Area Director for the Hudson Valley shared some history about the walk, “At first the walk in Duchess County was done at local high schools for 3 years. We moved it to the walkway in 2020 because it’s a historical site that joins 2 counties. It was a great location for an event that needs awareness.”
In 2015, 30 Dutchess residents died by suicide, while nationally over 41,000 died by suicide. It’s the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S and Maria Idoni is graciously trying to help spread awareness about this disease.
Unfortunately for Maria, it has been difficult starting the conversation about suicide. “The most difficult part is that there is a stigma associated with mental health and suicide, so the public in general doesn’t want to talk about it. It’s hard raising money for a topic that people don’t want to openly discuss.” Maria was clearly saddened by the stigmas that are constantly surrounding the topic of suicide.
Although the efforts in the Hudson Valley have been strong, the suicide rate has continued to over the years. AFPS has set a goal to reduce the annual suicide rate by 20% by 2025. This increased rate is all the more reason for people to get involved, and Marist College Athletes are taking notice.
Many Marist Athletic teams came out to support the walk and they all were very excited to be here to support the Hudson Valley. The Marist Swimming & Diving team is the Out of the Darkness Walk’s number two team with over $4,000 raised!
Captain of the Marist Swimming team, Robert McDowell, was excited about his teams accomplishments, “Originally we had the hope to raise five hundred dollars for the walk and our feedback from our friends and family has been uncanny that we continued to receive more and more donations!”
Marist Swimming team member, Isabella Morreale tragically lost her best friend to suicide her freshmen year. “Mental health is something that has been overlooked for years, it was not until recently that people started to take depression seriously as what it is, a disease. As someone who has personally been affected by depression, I was really glad to see so many people supporting the cause!”
This Sunday’s walk was a perfect sunny, fall day, filled with volunteers wearing their yellow ‘World Without Suicide’ pins. Last year, the Out of the Darkness walk raised $37,000 and this year they raised $39,000!
Although the goal was $50,000 Marissa Ruff was still ecstatic about the turn out they received today, “I can’t describe to you how happy it makes me to see how many Hudson Valley Community members and Marist College students that came out to support the walk. I know my husband is looking down and is proud of what we have achieved here today.”