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The 9th annual Out of Darkness Walk for Suicide Prevention is scheduled for Sept. 16 at Veterans Park, 13th Street West and Poly Drive in Billings. The event is hosted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and its Montana AFSP Chapter and the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Yellowstone Valley.

The walk is the primary fundraiser for the AFSP. Check-in, activities and  program will take place from 12:30 – 2 p.m., and the walk begins 2 p.m.

Montana now has the highest rate of suicide in the nation. For the past three years, the state has been among the top three states for that grim statistic. For the past three decades, the state has been among the top five worst states per capita for suicides.

Local statistics are equally disturbing. A Community Health Assessment survey in Yellowstone County in 2010 indicated about one in 10 Yellowstone County residents reported considering suicide at some point. Of those individuals, 17.8 percent indicated they had contemplated attempting suicide within the last year. Those discouraging figures are on the rise, climbing from 8.1 percent of participants in a Community Health Assessment survey done in 2005 who had ever considered suicide to 10.2 percent in 2010 who reported that they had considered attempting suicide at some point.

Education is a key tool in preventing suicide. Suicide Prevention Awareness Week, from Sept. 9-16, is one way to educate the public about suicide’s devastating toll in our state. The awareness week culminates Sept. 16 with the Out of the Darkness Walk.

For more information, call RiverStone Health at 247-3200.

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