The Natrona County Suicide Prevention Task Force hosts its annual "Breaking the Silence" walk at Crossroads Park at 4 p.m. Saturday.

"We do the walk every year to really bring awareness to this issue," said Traci Gardner, coordinator of the Natrona County Suicide Prevention Task Force.

Wyoming's suicide rate is nearly double that of the national average, and Natrona County's rate is higher than the state rate.

And nearly everyone in Wyoming has been touched by suicide either with their own struggles or through losses of friends or family members.

"We want to come together as a community of people to provide support for one another, to spread awareness, break the stigma," Gardner said.

"That's why they call it 'breaking the silence,' she said. "We want to break this silence of 'let's not talk about it.' We want to make sure people can feel like they can talk about it, because if they can talk about it then they can get help."

The task force also wants to inspire people to let them know there is hope with community support in friendship and resources, she said.

"Hopeless thoughts, hopelessness, kind of feeds these ideas or thoughts of suicide," Gardner said.

"So if we can offer hope as individuals in the community -- a friendly hello, help finding a resource, talking to somebody, helping them to reach out -- if we can offer that hope, then we can prevent suicide," she said.

The event is free and open to the public, Gardner said.

The task force will offer a few opening remarks before the walk begins at 4 p.m. People can walk as much as they walk along the Platte River Parkway east of Crossroads Park.

The event also features free barbecue from Johnny J's Restaurant, music, and free items such as T-shirts, books, and resources about suicide, Gardner said.


September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

Casper resident Lance Neiberger lost his son to suicide nine years ago. He recently told K2 Radio suicide is like a monster in the closet that has power over us as long we don’t want to deal with it. “But if we can open that closet door and see that there’s something there that can be dealt with, then that monster doesn’t hold the power that it used to.”

K2 Radio will talk to others who have grappled with suicide and why it affects our communities and state so deeply.

And we will look what has and is being done to identify and tame this monster among us.

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