KALISPELL — The Flathead Valley Out of the Darkness Walk, part of a national event aimed at preventing suicide, runs this Sunday in Kalispell
“Mental health issues are very pervasive, and some people don’t want to recognize it, don’t want to talk about it, want to put it away and you can’t put it away, we have to raise awareness,” Out of the Darkness Walk Chair Alison Schmaltz told MTN News.
The fifth annual Flathead Valley Out of the Darkness Walk is hosted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Schmaltz said individuals or teams are welcome to participate in the 3 mile or ½ mile walk starting at the Gateway Community Center.
“The walks can be quite emotional and that’s OK and things are pretty raw around here right now, and we really want them to know, that we do honor the people that we’ve lost but we have people that have lost people 30 years ago and it still brings up tears, and no matter what you’re not alone." - Out of the Darkness Walk Chair Alison Schmaltz
Schmaltz said the walk aims to help heal a grieving community after an increase in youth suicides has rocked the Flathead Valley.
“I mean we want people to know that it’s OK because if you come and you say I understand how you feel, that really can be a good thing for people to say I’m not the only one who struggles with these issues,” added Schmaltz.
She expects close to 500 people to participate in the event, with donations already exceeding $30,000.
“This is what this is about though is to try to help people get back to understanding that you don’t have to do this by yourself and that people out their care, this is like symbolic of that, people care,” said Schmaltz.
The Flathead Valley Out of the Darkness Walk runs from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sept. 26, starting at the Gateway Community Center in Kalispell.
If you or someone you know is dealing with emotional pain or suicidal thoughts, dial 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can also text “Hello” to 741741, which is the Crisis Text Line. More resources can be found here.