Letter: Suicide is preventable

With the recent suicides and media coverage around the state, the Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition wants to reassure community members there is hope.

Sometimes when we hear about suicides in our state, our perception of suicide occurrence becomes skewed. 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 suicide prevention.

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 and mental health) that are shown to develop resilience and promote protective factors, create healthy social norms through breaking codes of silence and increase connectivity. Signs of Suicide provides education to students so they can help detect suicidal thoughts and behaviors in 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 (juneausuicideprevention.org andjuneaumentalhealth.org) with local resources, and offers several publications such as 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 in how to help them. The Careline number is (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 meets to offer resources to those most impacted by the loss. If you are interested in scheduling a training for your work, friends or family, please sign-up through our website.

Suicide is preventable. If you are concerned about someone who is suicidal or want to know more information about risk factors and warning signs, please visit our website at juneausuicideprevention.org. 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