DAPHNE, Ala. (WKRG) — People filled the streets in Downtown Daphne for the 13th annual “Out of Darkness” Awareness Walk. They were there to raise awareness of important conversations about mental health that could prevent self-harm.

At Daphne City Hall, community members could get resources and reassurance that they are not alone. Most attendees had either lost a loved one or had dealt with suicidal thoughts themselves.

To keep the memory of lost loved ones alive, a wall was put up with images of their faces.

On that wall was 9-year-old James McCutheon’s note he had written for his father, Nathaniel. It reads, “I miss you, dad.”

McCutheon said everyone loved his father. “He was very friendly to other people,” McCutheon said.

Karen Favreau with the National Alliance on Mental Illness says having tough conversations is the first step to helping those who may be struggling with their mental health.

“… We have to do is talk about it,” Favreau said. “I think so many people are uncomfortable talking about it. Talking about it makes it real. It makes it more personal. We need to educate people.”

Lydia Barber organized the walk after losing her son, Allen, in 2010. She said the walk this year has raised record-breaking numbers compared to last year.

She said more than 700 people participated this year and raised $82,000, compared to a little under $60,000 in 2022.

At the walk, she wore a button with her son’s face as a reminder of what she continues to work for every day.

“You can’t be afraid to say the word suicide,” Barber said. “You can’t be afraid to ask somebody flat out if you feel they are going through a very difficult emotional period. We have to talk.”

All the money raised from the event, which is held the second week in October of every year, goes to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

For those in a crisis, dial 9-8-8 for the national hotline. The line is available 24 hours, seven days a week and is free and confidential.