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Father remembers 17-year-old daughter on World Suicide Prevention Day

Robert Avila and his wife both devote a big part of their lives to reaching other families who may need help.

SUFFOLK, Va. — Robert Avila’s world changed on August 4, 2016.

That’s the day he lost his 17-year-old daughter Kathy to suicide.

“We will never be over our grieving stage,” said Avila. “That’ll last forever.”

A month after losing Kathy, Avila found people with similar stories coming together to walk and raise awareness for suicide prevention. It was his turning point.

“Made me a better person, a better dad, a parent, a better husband, a better friend,” said Avila.

Today, Avila and his wife are chairs of the Suffolk Out of the Darkness walk. They devote a big part of their lives to reaching other families who may need help.

“Just going up to them and hugging them… means a lot whenever we are able to unite,” said Avila.

Because of COVID-19, three Out of Darkness walks can’t happen as a group this year, but people are still encouraged to register and then record videos walking with a small group in their neighborhood.

There are three events planned in Virginia Beach, Suffolk, and Newport News.

“We’re here to make a difference and make sure no families go through what we went through,” said Avila.

If you are in need of help and need to speak to someone, you can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.