The 3-Minute Interview: Robert Gebbia, organizer of all-night walk for suicide awareness

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Robert Gebbia is executive director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The organization is holding its Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk in D.C. from the evening of June 1 to the morning of June 2.

How did the idea for the walk come about?

It started in 2002. ... [The] idea was to give it a little different kind of approach. So it's an overnight walk literally from sundown to sunrise. It's 'Out of the Darkness' because the whole issue of suicide is often not talked about, and we thought that the symbolism would be very powerful to make this about bringing this issue out of the darkness.

Does the event always take place in D.C.?

No. It's a national event that is moved to different cities every year. ... The inaugural event was in Washington and this is the first time we will have been back in the capital since that first walk.

Is it tiring to walk all night?

It's not. There's plenty of rest stops and there will be a midnight meal. ... No one should push too hard, and if someone feels they can't make it there are also shuttles. ... It's been much more inspiring and motivating. I don't think people feel the mileage quite as much. It's something that everybody is able to do as long as they train a little bit and they take their time.

How have you personally been affected by suicide?

I lost a good friend who was a physician who took his life. We didn't see it coming, as many friends and family don't. ... Suicide affects all ages. It affects all socio-demographic groups, ethnic groups, income groups. ... This is a big public health problem that could affect any one of us, and we have to do more to try to prevent suicide.

- ?Naomi Jagoda

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Naomi Jagoda

Staff reporter
The Washington Examiner