Everett walk to shine a light on suicide prevention

The chairwoman of this year’s Out of the Darkness walk honors her son, who died by suicide at age 30.

Courtesy of Jane Duran
                                MJ Duran took his life in April 2016. He was 30. His mom, Jane Duran, is coordinating this year’s Out of the Darkenss Walk.

Courtesy of Jane Duran MJ Duran took his life in April 2016. He was 30. His mom, Jane Duran, is coordinating this year’s Out of the Darkenss Walk.

EVERETT — Jane Duran walks for her son. MJ Duran worked in IT and played drums in a band. His music of choice was metal. Photos show him dressed up for Halloween, sandwiched in a tight group of friends, chowing down on a massive slice of pizza, or losing himself in a drum solo. He went by “emjayrules” as his screen name online. Team Emjay now unites in his memory at the annual Out of the Darkness Walk, a fundraiser for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. MJ Duran took his own life on April 11, 2016. He was 30. Jane Duran, of Marysville, has participated in the Everett Out of the Darkness walk the last three years. She’s chairwoman this year. “Suicide is preventable,” she said. “If I can do this and save one person, I’ve stopped another mother from going through this.” This year’s event is scheduled for Saturday, with the walk starting a little after 10 a.m. at the Port of Everett Boxcar Park.
Team Emjay walked in the 2017 Out of the Darkness fundraiser walk in Everett in memory of MJ Duran, who died by suicide in April 2016. His mom, Jane Duran, is coordinating this year’s walk. (Courtesy of Jane Duran)

Team Emjay walked in the 2017 Out of the Darkness fundraiser walk in Everett in memory of MJ Duran, who died by suicide in April 2016. His mom, Jane Duran, is coordinating this year’s walk. (Courtesy of Jane Duran)

Along with the 1.5-mile walk, the event offers places for notes or photos to remember loved ones and includes rocks that will be decorated to pave a temporary memorial path, and a bead ceremony where guests don different colored beaded necklaces to symbolize how suicide has affected them. There will be a speaker and at least seven groups to share resources, including Volunteers of America and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. It’s a safe place where people understand what it means to lose someone to suicide, Duran said. Participants want to do something to honor those they’ve lost and to help those who are struggling. Suicide is the eighth leading cause of death in Washington, according to the foundation, which reviewed 2016 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Statewide, more than 1,100 people died by suicide in 2016. Among ages 15 to 34, it is the second leading cause of death. Duran has advocated for legislation and mental health resources at the national level, and wants to be part of a state effort next year. One change she’d like to see is requiring schools to print the suicide crisis hotline number on student ID cards. “If you have someone scared and alone on a Friday night in their room, they don’t have to look it up,” she said. “They don’t have to work through a moment of crisis to find that number.” Money raised through the walk mostly goes to research and programs. Research is key, Duran said, because it can help people better understand factors that contribute to suicidal thoughts and actions. Prevention programs include outreach in schools and free training on how to help someone in crisis. In recent years, multiple local efforts have sought to reduce the stigma associated with suicide, and to promote mental health resources and suicide prevention. It’s not easy to change the way people talk about or, in many cases, avoid talking about suicide. But talking saves lives, Duran said. Anyone can help, she said. It could be as simple as saving the crisis line in your cell phone so it’s handy if someone needs it. “MJ was 30 when he passed away, but he had a whole adult lifetime of depression and anxiety. I didn’t know the scope of what he was going through,” Duran said. “He was an amazing young man. I’m so sad that the mental health resources in our country are lacking. He deserved more.” She wears a yellow bracelet with her son’s name on it, and a blue pin on her shirt that says “World Without Suicide.” “I think my kids’ generation, they’re going to be the ones to make the change,” she said. “I think being alone for people in crisis is the worst thing in the world. We can be there for each other, watch for signs …. We’ve got to keep talking.” Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com. Out of the Darkness To sign up for the walk, go to bit.ly/2vH3tcE or go to Boxcar Park at 9 a.m. Saturday, shortly before the walk. If you or a loved one is struggling with suicidal thoughts, help is available. • Care Crisis Chat: imhurting.org (chat); 800-584-3578 (call); • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255, suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

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