The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s annual Out of the Darkness Walks, taking place in communities all across the country, raise awareness and provide support for those who have been affected by suicide, as well as those who suffer with mental health issues.

The North Dakota chapter of the AFSP is beginning to prepare for Williston’s walk, scheduled for Saturday, Sep. 26 at the Williston ARC. The community walks are the primary fundraiser for the Foundation, who puts those those funds towards the organization’s advocacy efforts, as well as for bringing programs back into the community. Those programs go into schools, businesses, health care providers, law enforcement centers and more to provide training and information to provide support to those in need.

One of the key efforts of the the organization, Board Member Kristen Rehak said, is awareness, and part of that awareness is showing those who have been affected by suicide that they are not alone. Rehak said mention of suicide is something that often stops a conversation, but that keeping that conversation going is a way to help those in need.

“We want it to be more open,” she told the Williston Herald. “Especially for the people that are in need of help. We want people to realize that there is support for them. There are people in their corner who will listen.”

“We truly believe talk saves lives.” Board Member Lori Geltel added.

Online registration for the walk is open until Sep. 25, however any individuals or teams who would like to participate can register in person beginning at 10 a.m. on Sept. 26. Registration is free and open to the public. The walk begins at 11 a.m. and will take participants down 18th street to 2nd avenue, where they will walk to Harmon Park and proceed up 11th street and back to the ARC. An alternate route will be available for those unable to travel the longer route.

Speakers for the walk will focus on education and awareness, Geltel said, with resources and information available for mental health and grief support. The event will also feature a silent auction and a free-will offering lunch. For more information, sponsorship, or to register or donate to the Williston Out of the Darkness Walk, visit www.afsp.org/williston. If you or someone you know is in need of support, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.

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