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Deer Ridge inmates participate in Out of Darkness Walk in early September, raise $3,200.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - DRCI inmates raised $3,200 in support of suicide prevention during the Out of the Darkness event earlier this month. Inmates walked the grounds of the Madras facility.   
Nearly 300 adults incarcerated at Deer Ridge Correctional Institution participated in the DRCI Out of the Darkness Walk Sept. 6, to raise awareness about suicide.

According to Sharon Ball, executive support specialist, the inmates raised $3,200 in support of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

"AFSP has a goal to reduce the nationwide suicide rate by 20% by 2025," she said. "AFSP is targeting four areas to engage participation and raise awareness: firearms owners, emergency rooms, correctional facilities and large health organizations."

The first walk for the Oregon Department of Corrections was held at the Santiam Correctional Institution in May 2017, she explained. "By 2019, six Oregon prisons are holding walks."

This month's event at Deer Ridge was that institution's first walk.

Inmate Jeffrey Adams was one of several who spoke at the event. "I want to be that guy, that guy that puts a hand out, that guy that reaches into somebody's darkness, that guy that listens, that just simply listens, that guy that gives someone a little hope that there is a light to guide them out of the darkness," he said.

The event was coordinated by the DRCI AIC ProSocial Group and several DRCI staff members: Meredith Allen, Angie Madden, Jodie Bauman and Michele Simmelink-Rask.

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