"When you have a large group of people all walking for the same reason, it opens people up to talk about what's bothering them because they feel more comfortable with the situation and know they are not alone," said Master Chief Petty Officer Anna Wood, the command master chief of 1st Dental Bn., 1st Marine Logistics Group.
Marine Corps Community Services set up booths at the event to provide information about resources and support programs highlighting the programs and services that exist for service members to strengthen resiliency and support recovery.
"We want to promote awareness among Marines and Sailors, so that they pay attention to see if anyone is getting disconnected," said Navy Capt. Peter Ruocco, the commanding officer of 1st Dental Bn., 1st MLG.
It's imperative that Marines and Sailors communicate with each other and know how everyone is doing, whether or not they may be struggling at work or in their personal life, according to Ruocco.
"This is a big event, if even one person has thought about suicide all they have to do is come and see that they have so many people in their corner – You're never alone," said Lance Cpl. Dillon Risto, a walk participant.
The event attracted more than 1,000 participants, most of them Marines and Sailors, but suicide prevention requires the support of friends, family and peers.
"It's very important we talk about the things that may not be easily spoken about," said Wood. "It provides an opportunity for those who may need assistance to see what's out there."
"You're part of a team and you're part of a group, and there is a special bond there," said Ruocco. "You should never feel alone, you should be connected to your brothers- and sisters-in-arms. Know that you're a valued member and you are important."
According to the Population Reference Bureau, maintaining healthy social relationships lowers the risk of suicide. Just a simple conversation could make all the difference.
"If we lose one Marine or one Sailor to suicide, then that's one Marine or one Sailor to many," said Ruocco.