MISSOULA, Mont. -

It's called the silent epidemic; suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. and Montana has the second highest suicide rate in the nation.

Sunday afternoon NBC Montana joined people from around the state who gathered to fund-raise and raise awareness to this troubling problem.

Missoula resident Leslie Wornath started Missoula's 'Out of Darkness Community' fund-raising walk five years ago.

She tells us after her friend committed suicide she had to do something to help her deal with the pain and heal and that's when she decided to start a fund-raising walk to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

“I lost my friend in 2008 and it was devastating to me and I didn't know how to turn my grief into something positive,” she tells us.  “It gives survivors like me a chance to honor our loved ones because it sucks to lose them so we walk to honor them and in memory of them.”   

Since starting the fund-raiser in 2009 Wornath and her colleagues tell us they've raised nearly $75,000 and this year she says they raised $11,000 just in online donations.   

“It warms my heart when I watch the website and every time we get a donation it makes me happy,” Wornath tells NC Montana.

Treve Brinkman and his wife Gillian drove down from Great Falls to walk in event.  Treve Brinkman tells us he lost his father-in-law to suicide and now he wants to help others who have gone through the same thing.

“It’s great to come out and fund-raise but what was really great was our opportunity to heal and our opportunity to give other people that same chance to heal just by donating and helping out this cause,” says Brinkman.  “It's a great celebration of life at the same time and recognition of empathy for people that have gone through this.”   

Brinkman says he thinks communication is the key to helping people who may feel suicidal.

“Anybody that has thoughts or that knows somebody, or maybe you are wondering about a person - open communication with that person is extremely important,” he says.  

Wornath tells us it's not always easy to talk about suicide and that's why she feels it's so important to provide people who are affected, with an outlet to help.

“Suicide is obviously a problem in Missoula, in Montana and it just can't be forgotten about,” she says.

Wornath tells me this year nearly 200 people came out to walk the 3.25 mile fundraiser, even while it was raining

As for the Brinkman’s - between the two of them they raised over $1,000.

Wornath says if you feel like you want to talk to somebody about suicide prevention there
Is a number you can call 1-800-273-talk; this will connect you with a representative with the American Foundation for Suicide prevention.

On a side note, the Brinkman’s say they were so inspired by this year’s fundraiser that they want to start their own walk up in Great Falls.

For more information about Out of Darkness, click here.