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Out of the Darkness Walk makes safety changes for COVID

Posted at 6:57 PM, Sep 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-20 10:02:57-04

The Out of the Darkness Walk had made some COVID adjustments this year, including making it a two-day event, starting Saturday.

The plan this year was to move the walk to Will James Middle School, after it drew about 1,800 people at Veterans park last year.

Due to COVID, the walk is now spread out by location, some walking at the school, and others choosing routes on their own.

The walk helps raise funds and awareness for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).

"The more that we are able to bring suicide out of the darkness and into the light, people are able to talk about, people are able to have the education to ask their loved ones 'hey are you hurting, are you suicidal," said Erin Bratsky, Yellowstone Valley Out of the Darkness Co-Chair. "There's a lot of emotion in the walk and coming together. It's an important way for people to grieve, to celebrate and to come together and remember. Certainly a risk factor for suicide is isolation, and so of course, we're seeing more isolation in the time of COVID, so this is even a more important time to come together and gather in the ways that we can and support each other and reach out to those that we love."

Bratsky said the AFSP has a goal of reducing suicide 20 percent by 2025.

Last year the Billings walk raised $148,000. The goal this year is $165,000.

The main day is Sunday for the Out of the Darkness Walk.

It will take place from 11:30 to 2:30 at Will James, Swords Park, Two Moon Park, the Shiloh Conservation Center and Veterans Park.

Seven walks around Montana have been scheduled during September.

A statewide ceremony can be seen online on Oct. 3.

More information on the ceremony and Montana fundraising is available on the AFSP website.