In the dark stillness of Saturday morning, an hour and a half before dawn, music mingled with the smell of woodsmoke at Bend in the Road Beach in Edgartown, where scores of tea lights twinkled against a backdrop of navigational markers flashing out to sea.

The previous night’s rainstorm had cleared away just in time for the Vineyard’s fourth annual Darkness Into Light suicide awareness and prevention walk, taking place in person for the first time since 2019.

Edgartown police chief Bruce McNamee rang in the light. — Ray Ewing

More than 100 people took part in the event, which began on the beach with fire pits, a DJ and a lighted sign that read HOPE. Holding battery-powered candles with flickering bulbs, beneath the light of the waning moon, they listened as speakers talked about the enduring grief of survivors and the need to reach out to those who are struggling.

“if you know someone who’s talking about suicide, or you know they’re thinking about it, it is very likely they are going to attempt it,” said Jim Wallen of Aquinnah, who lost his son Nicholas in May.

“Whatever you can do, I think you have to do it. You have to be very serious about what their intentions are,” Mr. Wallen said.

Speaker Gina Williams, one of the event’s organizers, recalled her father’s suicide and how he never met her daughter, born three years later.

The annual walk is a reminder that no dark night lasts forever, she said.

“Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it,” Ms. Williams said.

Walkers carried candles, symbolizing hope and remembrance. — Ray Ewing

Chris Dubois, a pastor from New Hampshire, spoke about his recovery from the depths of suicidal despair and the role of faith in his life.

After the speeches, as the sky began to lighten overhead and faint pink tinges appeared over the water to the east, the crowd began walking along the road from Bend in the Road to the Big Bridge.

As designed by its organizers, who include Islanders and the mental health organization NAMI of Cape Cod and the Islands, the three-quarter-mile stroll under dawning skies is a symbolic journey from darkness and despair into the growing light of hope.

Candles in hand, the walkers chatted quietly in multiple languages. Dogs strained at their leashes and a baby rode in a stroller. An early shift of gulls flew from Sengekontacket toward the beach.

As the column of marchers drew near the bridge, their voices grew hushed as the sound of bagpipes rose ahead. At the end of the riprap along the channel from Sengekontacket to the Sound, a kilted Edgartown police chief Bruce McNamee played Flower of the Forest, Wearing of the Green, The Minstrel Boy and other airs.

Nearby on the sand, lighted letters spelled out LISTEN.

After Chief McNamee’s haunting bagpipe performance, the marchers returned to Bend in the Road for a light breakfast and fellowship on the beach.

This was the first Darkness Into Vineyard Light event for Wayne and Kathleen Tackabury, who lost their son Davin nearly two years ago.

It was a sad, yet consoling gathering, Ms. Tackabury said, smiling as she wiped away tears: She was saddened to see so many other families affected by suicide, but comforted to be among them, she said.

Funds raised by walkers donated at the event will go to the Martha’s Vineyard Youth Task Force, to support programs and events for young people on the Island.

More pictures.