KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — On the first cool fall morning of the year at Concord Park, more than 300 people came together in positive spirits to fight the harming effects of mental illness.
"I lost my oldest daughter to suicide," said one attendee.
Everyone gathered at the park lost someone they love to suicide.
That's why they come out ever year to Knoxville's Out of the Darkness walk to raise awareness and raise funds to help stop suicide.
The walk attracts people from all over East Tennessee, like Anita Shubert from Sevier County.
"In the blink of an eye he was gone and I had no warning," she said.
Shubert is talking about her son Derek.
"He'll be gone 18 years in November," she said.
Shubert has been part of this walk since the inaugural event 11 years ago.
"My biggest hope is prevention, to keep this from happening to anyone else, the loss," she said.
Each year, more people join her group to walk in honor of Derek. This year, she had 25 friends and family members with her.
"It helps keep him active in my life like I'm still doing something for him," Shubert said about walking every year.
Her family and friends are still hurting from the loss of her son.
"You can see how much family we have and everything that he meant to us," said Derek's aunt Sherry Meyers. "We just wish he was still here."
Family groups of all sizes joined the wore shirts with the names and pictures of those they've lost to suicide.
Together they walked, using their foot steps to bring change.
Organizers of said this year they raised more than $27,000 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
If you or a loved one is experiencing harmful thoughts, call the 24-hour Mobile Crisis Hotline at 865-539-2409 or consult this list of mental health resources.