How many people die from suicide a year in America?  According to the Center for Disease Control, the number in 2018 was 46,510.  To put that in context automobile accidents kill an average of approximately 36,000 people a year in America.

Did you know that our veterans between the ages of 18 to 34 have a rate of suicide of 45.9 per 100,000.  That is compared to the overall rate of suicide in America of 15.6 per 100,000.

To draw attention to this epidemic we have a man from the state of Ohio by the name of Randall Roberts who will take the challenge of hiking 40 miles a day, for three days, on the North Country Trail (NCT) through Barry, Kalamazoo and Calhoun Counties this weekend to raise suicide awareness.

The NCT is part of the National Park System and runs over 4,600 miles from Vermont through Michigan and into North Dakota.  The Chief Noonday Chapter has approximately 300 volunteers that are responsible for maintaining 120 miles of trail In Michigan.

Randall Roberts will start at 7 AM this Saturday, Oct. 9th at the Kent/Barry county line and head south down to the Hillsdale county line and finishing Monday night at about 10 PM.

You can cheer Randall on this Sunday as he plans on hiking through Augusta around 1 PM and continuing into Battle Creek on the Linear Park Trail/NCT later that afternoon.

I am told that every hour he will share stories on social media from families who have lost a loved one and discuss warning signs and strategies to help prevent these terrible losses.

Eric Longman is his local contact that is helping organize this challenge and can be reached at ericnct@gmail.com.  He asked me to inform you that if you would like to support Randall by hiking a mile or two with him or would like more information on his hike you can contact him.

Randall will be encouraging anyone to donate directly to nonprofits that work in suicide prevention.

LOOK: Stunning vintage photos capture the beauty of America's national
Today these parks are located throughout the country in 25 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The land encompassing them was either purchased or donated, though much of it had been inhabited by native people for thousands of years before the founding of the United States. These areas are protected and revered as educational resources about the natural world, and as spaces for exploration.

Keep scrolling for 50 vintage photos that show the beauty of America's national parks.