HELENA — The East Helena Out of the Darkness Campus Walk cannot be held in-person this year, but that won’t stop local suicide prevention advocates from taking steps to fight suicide.
Planners recently transformed the fourth-annual Walk into a virtual event, allowing participants to walk remotely on April 25, and then share their activities via social media.
This will help walkers to maintain appropriate social distancing while showing their support for the cause.
“Suicide touches one in five American families. We hope that by offering this event virtually, we will still be able to draw attention to this issue and keep other families from experiencing a suicide loss,” said Walk Chairwoman Tova Reddick-Starkel.
The Montana chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the East Helena Suicide Prevention and Awareness Coalition are co-hosting the Walk, as they have done for the last three years.
The suicide prevention event and others like it help to fund AFSP’s education and support programs and its goal to reduce the annual U.S. rate of suicide 20 percent by the year 2025.
While the Walk is a fundraiser, it is free to participate in the event. Planners view awareness and prevention as a priority.
“Our ultimate goal is to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide, especially during this difficult time,” Reddick-Starkel said. “We can still bring the issue of suicide Out of the Darkness and create a culture that's smart about mental health.”
East Helena resident Cari Paige, who lost her son, Jackson, to suicide in 2015, will provide the keynote for the event, while East Helena Mayor James Schell and East Helena Schools Superintendent Ron Whitmoyer will also share a few words.
Local sponsors include the Awareness Network, Breathe, Center for Mental Health, the City of East Helena, Collision Pro, Door Systems of Montana, Drae’s Casino, East Helena Quality Education Foundation, Fraternal Order of the Eagles 4040, Green Source Electric, Helena Orthodontics, iFlyBigSky, J4 Automotive, NAMI Helena, Painting with a Twist – Missoula, Panda Express – Helena, PureView Health Center, SMA Architects, Stahly Engineering & Associates, St. Peter’s Health, and the Windbag Saloon.
For tips on how to participate virtually in the East Helena Out of the Darkness Campus Walk, please visit http://www.facebook.com/OOTDEastHelena. Register at afsp.org/easthelena.