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Arkansas families walk to raise awareness on suicide prevention

"This day is about remembering that person that we've lost, but also celebrating the life that they lived."

LITTLE ROCK, Ark — The annual 'Out of the Darkness Community Walk' brings awareness to suicide prevention and was back in-person at War Memorial Park Sunday. 

Over 100 families and teams came out to walk the 1.5 miles around the park. 

"With the many people here you'll see their shirts, that they have lost someone to suicide. So this day is about remembering that person that we've lost, but also celebrating the life that they lived," said Tabitha Childers, Chair for the walk.

She said the Out of the Darkness Community Walks are a collaborative effort with the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention.

"The goal with the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention is education, advocacy, research, and survivors support."

Among the crowd is a family wearing metallic shirts that read the name 'Jason Lambert.' He was a 30-year-old father of two who died in 2015.

His family said they felt so much support the first year they attended the walk following Lambert's death.

"Unless you've been touched by suicide, it's an eye opener. The first year that we came I was in awe at all of the people that were just touched with suicide," said Debbie Padgett, Lambert's mother, "It just shows me that I'm not alone. There are so many people that are together."

Padgett said her son was extremely lively and funny, and that they miss him each day.

"He'd walk into a room and light up a room. He was funny. All the time. Always laughing. He was was just a joy to be around," said Padgett. 

His family said he was a great son, father, brother, boyfriend and everything to everybody.

He was hilarious and kind. He loved to rap, and above everything else, he made everybody laugh. 

"He used to call me 'Sissy Foot.' We just.. When we got together we just could not stop laughing. Like laughing nonstop," said Monica Metcalf, Lambert's sister. 

They were in shock when he took his own life.

Now, life feels empty without him.

"I don't think there's as much laughter as it was. Regardless of the situation, I mean, by the end of the day we would be laughing. I'd get mad at him and he'd be like 'Aww! Mama Cat! It's okay," said Padgett. 

The Out of the Darkness Community Walks are held in hundreds of cities across the country.

Childers said half of the funds raised go towards the national organization, which will fund national research grants for suicidality. The grant also goes towards researching the best mental health treatments for anxiety and depression.

There were 815 participants and 92 teams total at Sunday's event, as more than $70,000 was raised.

If you or someone you know is in need of help, you can contact that National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-(800) 273-8255. 

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