Sale to benefit local suicide awareness, prevention chapter

Every year a memory wall is displayed, on which participants can hang notes and photos of loved ones who have died by suicide.

The local chapter of Out of the Darkness Community Walks is holding a garage sale to raise funds for its walk in September. Half of the funds goes to the North Dakota chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and the rest stays local for research and educational programs.

“Our mission is to bring hope and save lives. We do that however we can, wherever we can,” said ASFP volunteer and co-chair for Minot’s Out of the Darkness Walk, Twyla Hofer.

The nonprofit offers educational programs covering firearm safety and military suicide prevention as well as elementary, high school, college and senior-geared programs, which are all free.

The organization offers a presentation called “Talk Saves Lives,” which covers the general scope of suicide, research and prevention and what people can do to fight suicide.

The group also shows “It’s Real: College Students and Mental Health,” a film created to raise awareness about mental health issues commonly experienced by students.

Sisters Twyla Hofer, left, and Trude Skalicky, right, are volunteers for the Out of the Darkness Community Walk. They are raising funds through a garage sale to reach their goal of $45,000 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

“It’s in our community. We hear it. We see it. We talk about it. We’re just hoping that more people get that education to know what to do and then themselves know where to find help,” Hofer said.

She said mental health issues affect the Minot area more than what is typical, which is thought to be kickstarted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Though COVID-19 measures wound down, the need for mental health services grew instead of decreased.

Hofer’s life has been personally touched by suicide. She said she had some lived experience in her teenage years and her youngest daughter, Anastassia Hofer, fought mental health issues in her younger years, which involved several visits to the hospital.

“Everybody who’s involved with AFSP has a personal reason. It touches everyone, whether it’s immediate family, there’s outreach. … It has a ripple effect. One person is affected and it affects the next person and then the next person. Loss is not linear. It is radiant and reaches so many more people in totally different ways,” Hofer said.

The garage sale is being held today and Saturday at 1120 42nd St. SE in Minot. The Out of the Darkness Community Walk will be held on Sept. 8. Registration is open.


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