The annual Out of the Darkness Community Walk was held Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon at the West River Community Center (WRCC) in Dickinson. The event was hosted by the North Dakota Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).

Dana Glasser, chairwoman of the event, said it had 244 registered participants and she was happy with that turnout, saying that one of the fun aspects of this type of fundraiser is that people can create teams.

“So you can create a team and invite people to join your team, walk with you and also fundraise,” she said. “We had 21 teams for this event.”

A team of suicide awareness supporters gather together Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, at the West River Community Center. (Contributed / Dana Glasser)
A team of suicide awareness supporters gather together Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, at the West River Community Center. (Contributed / Dana Glasser)

The event raised a substantial amount of money.

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“We have already raised $30,229,” Glasser said Tuesday evening, adding that the group’s target for the end of the year is $42,000.

“We’re hoping that people still want to continue to donate and help us reach our goal,” she said.

For music, the AFSP’s playlist “Out of the Darkness” was played.

“It fit the event,” Glasser said. “And it’s a really good playlist that I actually downloaded for my phone.”

Glasser has suffered the pain of suicide in her own family and is doing what she can to make sure others don’t have to.

“I lost my brother to suicide in 2020,” Glasser said. “So in 2020, that was my first year experiencing the walk and raising money for the event. Then I was approached to be a part of the committee and be the chair for the walk.”

She said she wants to enable those struggling to feel comfortable opening up.

“We also want people to be able to recognize some warning signs of suicide, and not be afraid to talk to people and ask people if they’re struggling,” she said.

According to the AFSP some of the potential warning signs include expressing a desire to die or a lack of meaning, feeling of being trapped, talking about what a burden they are to others, isolation and extreme mood swings.

Glasser said more communication about mental health and the risk factors of suicide can help reduce the rate at which it occurs.

“I don’t want mental health to carry that stigma, so that people are afraid to talk about it,” she said. “I think by having open conversations with family, loved ones, students, you know — anybody that we can, we can help more people… and get people the resources that are available to them.”

Glasser said anyone who wants help should call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).