COMMUNITY MEMBERS TAKE TO THE STREETS TO FIGHT SUICIDE
Over a Hundred Walks Being Held Nationwide Through June 2018
East Helena, Mont. — Although suicide remains the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and the 8th overall in Montana, it is preventable.
In an effort to fight suicide and instill hope around this issue in our communities, more than 700 people from throughout Lewis & Clark County are expected to participate in the second-annual East Helena Out of the Darkness Campus Walk at 2 p.m. on Sat., April 28. Registration and a resource fair begin at 1 p.m. at the Walk’s hub and staging point, located at East Helena City Hall, 306 E. Main St.
This year’s Walk will include a closing ceremony featuring musician and mental health advocate Jack Oberweiser, as well as a free barbecue with hamburgers and hot dogs provided by Smith’s Place for the first 500 participants who wish to eat.
Hosted by the East Helena Suicide Prevention & Awareness Coalition and the Montana Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the campus walk supports AFSP’s local and national education and advocacy programs and its bold goal to reduce the annual suicide rate 20 percent by 2025.
“We walk to raise awareness about this important health issue. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people aged 10 – 44 in Montana,” said Tova Reddick-Starkel, the walk’s chairwoman and chapter board member of AFSP Montana. “We hope that by walking we save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide.”
The East Helena Out of the Darkness Campus Walk is one of more than 150 Campus Walks being held nationwide this year. The walks are expected to unite more than 25 thousand walkers of all ages and raise more than a million dollars for suicide prevention efforts. Last year, the East Helena Walk raised over $31,000, drew more than 700 participants and increased knowledge about this public health issue in the county. Local efforts also received acknowledgement in January, when AFSP named the 2017 East Helena Walk its top five Campus Walk for fundraising.
Speakers for the upcoming event will include Rep. Mary Ann Dunwell, D-Helena, East Helena Mayor James Schell, East Helena Superintendent of Schools Ron Whitmoyer, and a special guest.
“These walks are about turning hope into action,” said AFSP CEO Robert Gebbia. “Suicide is a serious problem, but it’s a problem we can solve. The research has shown us how to fight suicide, and if we keep up the fight the science is only going to get better, our culture will get smarter about mental health, and we’ll be able to save more people from dying from depression and other mental health conditions.”
Local sponsors for the East Helena Out of the Darkness Campus Walk include Action Print, Awareness Network, Big Horn Rentals and Sales, Boilermakers Local 11, Breathe, Let’s Start a Conversation, Browning, Kaleczyc, Berry & Hoven, P.C.; Center for Mental Health, City of East Helena, Collision Pro, Dirty Dozen, East Helena Quality Education Foundation, Gold Rush Management, Harrington Physical Therapy, Helena Orthodontics, Heritage Food Store, iFly BigSky, J4 Automotive, Lehrkind’s Coca-Cola, Lindley Environmental, Luxan & Murfitt, PLLP, the Man Store, Mergenthaler Transfer & Storage, Montana Hospital Association, Montana Propane, Narles Layne Foundation, Nicole Stroman Photography, Painting With A Twist – Missoula, Party Plus Rentals, Pizza Ranch Helena, SMA Architects, Smith’s Place, Taco John’s, and Valley Bank of Helena, among others.
To register for the East Helena Out of the Darkness Campus Walk, please visit www.afsp.org/EastHelena. For more information, contact Reddick-Starkel at [email protected] or by calling (406) 465-4471. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/OOTDEastHelena/.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, and with a public policy office in Washington, D.C., AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. AFSP celebrates 30 years of service to the suicide prevention movement. Learn more about AFSP in its latest Annual Report, and join the conversation on suicide prevention by following AFSP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.