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Father shares loss to educate others about mental health

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The Out of the Darkness walk in Downtown Indianapolis is this weekend, and one of the people helping this year has experienced a loss of his own.  One Hoosier father hopes other parents will listen to his story.

Matthew Davis described his son, Anthony Wilkerson, as a happy and healthy teenager.

“He was 18. He was a freshman at IU,” described Davis.  “He graduated from Perry Meridian High School.  He was an honor student.  He had a full academic ride. He had everything going for him.”

It was shortly after graduation that everything changed.

“I lost my son to suicide November 20, 2014,” said Davis.

The grieving father quickly learned more about suicide and more importantly mental illness.

“It’s something that affects anyone,” said Davis.  “It is not discriminatory.  It does not care how old you are.  It affects people daily.”

This year, Davis is a co-chair of the walk organized by the American Foundation For Suicide Prevention.   They hope to raise more than $200,000.

“The Indy walk is the main source of funding for suicide prevention and mental illness training,” said Davis.

He’s also working to get more training at Perry Meridian High School for staff to spot students who might need help.

“If I knew then what I know now, I would have probably recognized something more,” said Davis.  “Suicide is treatable.  The warning signs are there.”

The Out of the Darkness Walk is Saturday September 10 at White River State Park.  You can sign up to walk, or donate.

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