1. Eastern Montana Out of the Darkness walk, in association with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), begins in Veterans Park on Saturday, Sept. 21, at 9 a.m. — 12 p.m. There are seven walks across Montana that are held every September.
2. Of the money earned from the walks, 50 percent stays in the state for research and prevention, education, advocacy, survivor support and awareness, while the other 50 percent goes to the national AFSP organization.
3. Nick Kallem, eastern Montana walk organizer and a member of the AFSP Montana chapter board, said when his family lost his brother to suicide in 2011, they made it their mission to raise awareness and prevention. They’ve been walking since 2013 and he joined the board last year. His mother has chaired the Missoula walk for the last four years.
4. AFSP is the largest grassroots private funder of suicide research. Of all the money raised for AFSP, 83 percent of it is put back into the cause.
5. Montana has the highest rate of suicide per capita in the nation. Contributing factors to that startling statistic include elevation, isolation, the “cowboy up” culture, lack of vitamin D and alcoholism rates. NBC News also named the strong gun culture as a factor.
6. Online registration closes at noon the Friday before the walk (Sept. 20) at afsp.org/easternmt. Anyone can register at the walk from the time check-in begins until the walk starts. Registration is free and open to the public. Walk donations are accepted until Dec. 31.
7. If $150 is raised by walk participants by the day of the walk, they will receive an official walk T-shirt.