EAST HELENA — On Saturday, over 200 people walked 2.5 miles for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out of the Darkness campus walk, all in the name of suicide prevention.
"We do this as a team. Suicide affects everyone, and so the more people that we can bring together from surrounding communities to let them know that we are here for one another is really important," said Katie Levine, the Rocky Mountain area director for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
She says the Tri-County walk brings together a community from Jefferson, Lewis and Clark, and Broadwater counties and that they are happy to have the event back in person.
"The last two years we've held it virtually, we were glad that we did that we still bring something in the community during that time, but it is about gathering and being together and supporting one another as we talk about suicide and reduce the stigma,” said Levine.
The Out of the Darkness campus walk began in 2017 and had 21 booths with organizations that focus on behavioral health, suicide prevention, and physical health.
The event also had a memorial wall for friends and family members that were impacted by suicide.
This walk supports the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s education and support programs and its bold goal to reduce the annual U.S. rate of suicide 20 percent by the year 2025.
According to Lewis and Clark County Suicide Prevention Coordinator Jess Hegstrom, talking about challenging topics like suicide is beyond important.
"It is about bringing these difficult topics out of the darkness and into the light because, for the longest time, they've been taboo. But if we don't talk about them, if we don't face them, then how can we address them? Plus, it gives people who have struggled, people affected, people who've lost someone, a place where they can be together and share an experience and walk with those they love and who they lost," said Hegstrom.
If you are in crisis and want help, call the Montana Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 24/7, at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) Or text “MT” to 741 741