Glow in the dark event raises awareness for suicide prevention
POLSON – Suicide has been a persistent problem in Montana, but one high school student is trying to change that trend, starting with her community.
“I have lost so many people to suicide,” said Lexie Gauthier, a sophomore at Ronan High School and 2019 Miss Flathead Lake Teen USA.
Using her voice as Miss Flathead Lake Teen, Gauthier held the Glow Run for Suicide Awareness on Wednesday, July 3, at the Polson Sports Complex track to raise awareness for suicide prevention. About 250 people registered and dressed up in their best “glow-in-the-dark” outfits to raise awareness about suicide prevention and to show support for those suffering from loss due to suicide. The group walked or ran around the track from 10 p.m. to midnight. Gauthier was grateful to Brandon Burke and the Reason to Live Native organization, which is a suicide prevention and intervention program targeting people ages 10 to 24 years old, for supporting the event.
“For the community, this event is absolutely huge,” said Miss Montana Flathead Teagan Gray, who helped organize the event. She said the community has been “through a lot” in the past few years concerning suicide.
After organizers saw how well this year’s event brought people together, they decided to start planning for the second annual Glow Run for Suicide Awareness.
“Overall, the response of those who attended was just love and support,” said Gauthier. “I feel like it went better than I could’ve imagined. I am really thankful for the turnout and how everyone was able to come together to raise awareness about suicide.”
Montana ranked in the top five for suicide rates in the past 40 years. The state saw 25 suicides for every 100,000 residents in 2016, nearly double the national average, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in the state for ages 10 to 25, according to the state’s Suicide Mortality Review Team.
If you or someone you know are in crisis or having suicidal thoughts, help and resources can be found by contacting the National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text TALK to 741741 to speak with a trained crisis counselor.