200 Brave Weather for Out of Darkness Walk

Walkers gather for a short program before the walk starts. (Photo by Pat Blair)

Around 200 Sheridan area residents braved Saturday's rain and wind to participate in the sixth annual Out of Darkness Walk Saturday morning.

Registration and the opening program were moved to Sheridan's YMCA, but the rest of the two-mile walk went off as originally planned. Vanessa Hastings, who was a co-chair of the walk, said 200 people had registered online as of Friday, and the walk organizers were hoping for at least another 100 on Saturday. She said the walk has many purposes.

Bill Hawley, who's a founding chairman of the Sheridan chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, said the event provides a time for people to come together.

Hawley said he didn't have suicide figures for Sheridan County, but Wyoming is consistently among the top five states in the nation in terms of suicides per capita. He said in 2012, Wyoming was first in the nation in terms of suicides, with 172 suicide deaths. He said there were decreases in suicide deaths in 2012 and 2013, but in 2015, the number increased to 158.

He said that's the reason people from Sheridan, Buffalo and the surrounding communities come together in September, to remember and to shine a light on the stigma that surrounds suicide and mental health concerns.

View more photos below.

Some of the approximately 200 participants. (Photo by Pat Blair)
Vanessa Hastings, left, and Bill Hawley confer before the walk starts. (Photo by Pat Blair)
People line up at the registration tables. (Photo by Pat Blair)
Volunteers of America had a table at the event. (Photo by Pat Blair)