Hampton Roads Morning of Hope unites community, military in fight against stigma of suicide, depression

Tamica Foye of Newport News pins up an image remembering a coworker’s child during the Hampton Roads Morning of Hope at Mount Trashmore in September. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

MOUNT TRASHMORE — People gathered here at the city park on Saturday, Sept. 9, for a reborn, now more locally-focused event to unify people from around the region in the fight against suicide and the stigma of mental illnesses such as depression.

The Hampton Roads Morning of Hope, Help and Healing, which evolved this year from Out of the Darkness Community Walks held in the past, brought thousands of people together to remember those who lost suicide and to find support.

Lea Abraham of Mount Lebanon Baptist Church in Norfolk said she attended to support families touched by these issues. “We all struggle from depression, whether we admit it or not,” she said. “To be together, just together – you never know whose lives you touch just by being present.”

Jordan Wagner of Norfolk attended the Morning of Hope with his children, Owen, 10, and Janey, 7. It was Wagner’s third year at the event. Previously, he had attended the Out of the Darkness event at Mount Trashmore. He lost an uncle to suicide. His children came this year to help raise awareness. 

“It’s good there’s a lot of people,” he said. “It can be a very personal thing. It’s good to see you’re not alone.”

Owen Wagner agreed that he wanted to raise awareness and remember his great uncle.

“It’s really personal for them,” he said.

“Were you listening to me?” his father said.

Latoiya Blanchard said she witnessed the suicide of a loved one five years ago. She came out to walk during Out of the Darkness, and this year she returned for the Morning of Hope. That first year was hard, she said, but she noted how many people were there, too.

“This is one place where everyone is kind of dealing with the same thing,” she said.

People walk around the path together during the Hampton Roads Morning of Hope, Help and Healing on Saturday, Sept. 9, at Mount Trashmore Park. Thousands of people attended the event, which seeks to end the stigma associated with suicide and mental illness. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]
A member of the Derty Rydas motorcycle club wears green to represent a brother — a fellow rider lost to suicide. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]
U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Tamia Daniels, a Norfolk resident who serves aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, attended the event in support of her command and for a loved one who suffers from depression. “I think it’s amazing,” she said of the number of people who attended the Morning of Hope. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

Learn more about the Hampton Roads Morning of Hope, Help and Healing online via hamptonroadssos-hope.org/moh/.

© 2017 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC

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