Letter: Suicide is preventable

With the recent public suicide in Juneau, the Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition wants to reassure community members there is hope. There is no denying that Alaska has a high rate of suicide. But, the fact is that MOST Alaskans do NOT attempt or complete suicide. Most Alaskans are deeply affected by suicide because the loss ripples throughout the state and community. There are several efforts in Juneau aimed specifically at preventing suicide.

In the high schools, the JSPC oversees two main programs – Sources of Strength and Signs of Suicide. Sources of Strength seeks to change school climate through increasing help-seeking behaviors from youth to adults, promoting the eight sources of strength (family support, positive friends, mentors, healthy activities, generosity, spirituality, medical access, mental health) that are shown to develop resilience and promote protective factors for youth. Signs of Suicide provides education to students so they can help detect suicidal risk for themselves and their friends, and connect them with an adult to get help.

In the community, the JSPC offers trainings to educate the public about suicide warning signs and how/where to get help, maintains two websites, www.juneausuicideprevention.org and www.juneaumentalhealth.org with local resources, and offers several publications including books, resource cards, and brochures. The JSPC promotes the Careline – a confidential crisis line anyone can call for help – for those who might be in imminent danger and/or know a friend or family member who is struggling and needs support. The Careline number is 1-877-266-4357 (HELP) or you can text 4help to 839863 from 3-11 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. If a suicide occurs in Juneau, the JSPC offer resources to those most impacted by the loss. If you are interested in scheduling a suicide prevention training for your work, friends or family, please sign-up through our website.

Suicide is preventable. And, as a community, each one of us has a place in helping to prevent it. If you know someone who was impacted by the recent suicide, please reach out to them and ask how they are doing. Offer them the resources mentioned above and make an effort to connect them with help. It takes a web of support and resources to wrap around someone who is struggling. If we all work together, we can prevent suicide in Juneau.

Hilary Young,

Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition