The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention held a walk on May 21 to help spread awareness about mental health. Courtesy Photo/ Margie Johnston

SCARBOROUGH — The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention recently held a walk to help spread awareness about mental health.  

May was Mental Health Awareness month. The foundation partnered with the Town of Scarborough and local mental health and suicide prevention organizations to provide an event with free resources, raffles, a local police K9 Unit demonstration, photo contests, and more.

Sergeant Andrew Flynn and K9 Tucker from the Scarborough Police Department made a special visit to show support for the foundation.   

“The event went very well,” Flynn said. “The weather was great, and there was a pretty good turn out. K9 Tucker seemed to enjoy the attention he was getting as well.”

“Suicide has sadly impacted most, if not all, of our lives,” he said. “In the law enforcement profession, we are often the first ones on scene, and the first ones to inform family members of another’s death, including those who died by suicide. It’s the worst part of our job, and we’re always looking for ways to prevent that. I believe that many suicides can be prevented by ending the stigma surrounding it, and making it acceptable to talk about it, and to reach out for help. So when Desiree reached out to me and asked me to attend, I graciously accepted.”

The event raised $6,285 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The 64 participants got to bring their dogs walked them around Memorial Park in Scarborough.  


“This is the first time we have ever done this in Maine,” said Margie Johnston. “The event was just around the walkway at the park, and there were no speakers. It was a small walk the first time doing it.”   

Kids got to take part in a read-along of the book Gizmo’s Pawesome Guide to Mental Health. The read-along takes an upstream approach to support youth mental health and wellness from ages 5 to 10 through Gizmo’s friendly message.  

The message event organizers wanted to share with young people was introducing the concept of mental health; sharing how one may care for their mental health daily; identifying when one’s mental health needs attention and how to use healthy coping strategies; defining trusted adults and how to connect with them and making personalized mental health plan. 

“The event went great,” said Johnston. “We had about 20-30 people with their pets attend. We had about seven tabled organizations, including two veterinary clinics, tender touch, and Stoneledge Animal Hospital, plus the Veterans Administration, Camp Kita, Nami of Portland, No More Vets organization, and others. We raised over $6,000. This was like a mini-walk for our first time this year, and we will do it again.”

“Our much bigger walk is on Sept. 17 at Fort Allen Park in Portland, our AFSP Greater Portland Out of the Darkness Walk,” said Johnston. “We had over 300 people attend and raised over $65,000. That is the one we focus mainly on.”   

The Out of the Darkness Community Walk is a journey of remembrance, hope, and support. The walk brings the community together to acknowledge how suicide and mental health conditions have affected each other and people’s loved ones. Registration for the event can be found on their website at  

For those looking for support and resources, visit or 


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