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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Dealing with death by suicide is what brings these families together.

Nearly 2,000 people started their 16-mile journey at dusk along the Potomac River on Saturday. The continued throughout the night and wouldn't end their journey until dawn.

They walk to bring mental health and the suicide prevention conversation out of the darkness.

Bob Gebbia, Executive Director of theAmerican Foundation for Suicide Prevention says, "I think it's important and this may be the last public health problem getting attention."

The "Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk" was organized by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. This is a yearly event here in Washington that started 11 years ago. The walkers raised more than $2 million for suicide prevention, along mental health research and awareness.

Gebbia says, "Mental illnesses like depression, bi-polar illnesses, anxiety, addictions, you know these are real illnesses and we have to stop looking at those who suffer with them is if somehow it's their fault. It's not."

Maureen Iselin of Arlington participated in the walk. She lost her cousin Danny to suicide back in 2005. Her family's grief has been hard to share.

Iselin says, "If somebody dies from cancer or heart disease, you're open to talk about it. And with suicide it's something that's very hard because you don't want to be judged."

Maureen's goal is to help families identify the warning signs of worsening depression and take action.

Some of those signs of depression include difficulty concentrating, fatigue, loss of interest in daily activities or hobbies, erratic behavior, or spending long periods of time in the bed.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number: 800-273-TALK (8255).

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