This article contains references to suicide.
In recognition of International Suicide Prevention Awareness Day, Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition and partners on Saturday hosted a community barbecue at Sandy Beach.
The event featured the Yees Ku.oo dancers traditional games and resources and information available centered around suicide prevention. There was also a two-hour Canoe Healing-Journeys offered for suicide loss and attempt survivors.
“The healing canoe rides were reserved for suicide lost and attempt survivors and that’s being offered by One People Canoe Society,” said Suicide Prevention Program Coordinator Tina DeAsis-Samaniego. “We asked for an early registration just to make sure that the survivors were able to get on, but if there are any others for any grief related reasons, just to be out on the water, that for many people can be such a healing time.”
According to DeAsis-Samaniego, for every death by suicide, it is estimated 20 more people have attempted suicide. On average, 10.3% of Americans have thought about suicide and 54% of Americans have been affected by suicide. DeAsis-Samaniego said that in 2020, Alaska ranked second highest for the number of suicide deaths per capita and was over twice the national average.
Executive Director of National Alliance on Mental Illness Juneau Aaron Surama said the event was meant to be an opportunity for people to not just experience a sense of community but also learn more about the resources that are available to help prevent suicide.
“We really want to deliver the message that people can support suicide prevention, it’s not just like we need this service or place to prevent suicide, that us feeling connected to one another and feeling comfortable talking about difficult topics is suicide prevention, so any person can play a critical role in someone else’s life,” Surama said.
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The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached by calling, texting or chatting 988. Careline, Alaska’s suicide prevention network, can be reached by calling 877-266-4357 or by texting “4help” to 839863 3-11 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.