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SADDLE BROOK, N.J. – When Ashley Morolla of Maywood was planning a suicide awareness walk last July , she could hardly have anticipated the turnout.
The October event, called Out of the Darkness, drew 500 people to Saddle River County Park in Saddle Brook.
It raised $72,000, Morolla said. That was $7,000 more than the goal.
“For the very first time, we ran out of places to park,” said Morolla, a licensed professional counselor.
She also is board chair of the Northern New Jersey Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).
That’s the group that has organized the Saddle Brook walk the past eight years.
The chapter was linked to 17 community and campus walks in 2016, Morolla said.
Next year, the chapter plans on getting more involved in school systems, she added.
It presents a free program called “More Than Sad” to students, teachers, and parents in middle and high schools.
“We really want to educate them on what to do if they see someone who may be at risk and how to get them help,” Morolla said.
The AFSP accepts invitations to present, she added. For instance, she recently presented “More Than Sad” at a Teterboro school at the request of a guidance counselor.
The money raised through the annual walk funds trainings for AFSP staff, Morolla said.
In turn, the staff shares the information with the community in presentations such as “More Than Sad” and “Talk Saves Lives.”
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