In the aftermath of John B. McLemore’s death, Cheryl Dodson and friends work to raise suicide awareness. The popular S-Town podcast documents John’s story, a troubled man from Woodstock, Alabama who committed suicide in 2015.
Today, Cheryl walks for John in the Out of the Darkness Community Walk in Birmingham.
Hosted by Brian Reed, the S-Town podcast comes from Serial and The American Life. The S-Town podcast has had over 65 million listeners.
The storyline takes place in Woodstock, Alabama, which is a small town just outside of Birmingham.
The podcast follows the story of John B. McLemore, who contacted Brian Reed to investigate a murder in his hometown. However, in the process of investigating, John committed suicide.
Brian Reed, intrigued by John’s character, then created S-Town to tell John’s story. The podcast has been wildly successful.
Out of the Darkness Community Walk
Today, November 5th, a group of John’s friends walk to raise awareness for suicide.
The S-Town podcast has allowed John’s story to be heard around the world, but it is easy to forget that John was a real person with real friends and family who now grieve his loss.
Bham Now spoke with Cheryl Dodson, who is featured on chapter VII of the S-Town podcast.
At one point, Cheryl and John were close friends as well as business partners (they opened a nursery together in Woodstock). Now, Cheryl works hard to raise suicide awareness, as she is affected deeply by it.
“It’s just about trying to help other people heal,” Cheryl told Bham Now, “When you’ve lost somebody, you want to do something to help so that other people don’t have to walk through what you did.”
Cheryl started a movement called “Opening Doors to Awareness,” and she raised over $1200 for the Out of the Darkness Community Walk in Birmingham.
The podcast’s wide platform helped her cause.
“I received donations from Australia, Canada, and England, as well as donations from different states,” Cheryl told Bham Now, “We’ve raised $1280 from people I never would have met otherwise.”
The walk for awareness may be over, but you can still help! The goal for this year’s walk is $150,000. So far, the event has raised a little over $98,447. If you want to help, you can continue to donate until December 31st!
In particular, if you want to support Cheryl and John B. McLemore, you can donate to their team here.
According to the Out of the Darkness website, “when you walk in the Out of the Darkness Walks, you join the effort with hundreds of thousands of people to raise awareness and funds that allow AFSP to invest in new research, create educational programs, advocate for public policy, and support survivors of suicide loss.”
Out of the Darkness Walks are in collaboration with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
You’re not alone
The overarching message of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and Cheryl Dodson is simply this: you’re not alone.
As Cheryl said, “I want people to know mental illness is not something to be ashamed of.”
There are people in the Birmingham area who have experienced suicide and depression, as shown by the nearly $100,000 locally raised funds.
You can get involved with Out of the Darkness here.
And don’t forget, you can always call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).