Nearly a quarter of a million people lace up their shoes each September, walking in towns and cities across the United States, to draw attention and awareness to the fight against suicides. This year in Dickinson, volunteers will join forces with countless others for the annual Out of the Darkness Community Walk when the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) ND Chapter will host the event from 9 a.m. to noon, on Sept. 18, at the West River Community Center (WRCC) in Dickinson.

Registration will take place from 9 to 10 a.m., inside the WRCC in the Community Room.

Following an opening ceremony, the walk will start in the outdoor pool parking lot. From there, participants will walk the outside track around the WRCC. This walk benefits the AFSP’s education and support programs and reduce the annual rate of suicide in the United States by 20% by 2025, according to an AFSP press release.

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and the eighth leading cause of death in North Dakota, according to the AFSP website.

“Suicide touches one in five American families. We hope that by walking we will draw attention to this issue and keep other families from experiencing a suicide loss,” Dickinson Out of the Darkness Walk Event Chair Dana Glasser said. “Our ultimate goal is to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide.”

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The Dickinson Out of the Darkness Community Walk is one of more than 550 Out of the Darkness overnight, community and campus walks that will take place nationwide this year. AFSP officials expect that this year’s in-person walks will unite more than 300,000 people and raise millions of dollars for suicide prevention efforts.

In 2020, walks were transformed into a variety of physically distanced creative activities, which were known as “Out of the Darkness Experiences.” Though the walks were structured differently than previous years, more than $21 million was raised for suicide prevention. In Dickinson, the local walk raised more than $36,000 and drew in several participants.

“These walks are about turning hope into action,” AFSP CEO Robert Gebbia said. “The research has shown us how to fight suicide, and if we keep up the fight, the science is only going to get better and our culture will get smarter about mental health. With the efforts of our courageous volunteers, and a real investment from our nation’s leaders, we hope to significantly reduce the suicide rate in the United States.”

For those interested in participating in the Dickinson Out of the Darkness Community Walk, visit afsp.org/dickinsonnd to register. Registration will also be available the day of the event.