Local coalition provides resources, training to help prevent suicide

Local coalition provides resources, training to help prevent suicide

When it comes to helping a friend in need, asking one tough question might be the best way to start, experts say.

Hillary Young, the suicide prevention program coordinator with the Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition, said the most effective way to help a friend or family member who is showing warning signs of suicidal thoughts is to be straightforward with them. Asking them directly if they are having suicidal thoughts, Young said, is the best way to start to get them help.

“The No. 1 thing is to ask the question,” Young said.

The issue of suicide has been in the news on a national and local level recently. Nationally, the suicides of celebrities Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade have sparked further conversations about raising awareness about how anyone can experience suicidal thoughts regardless of circumstance.

Last week in Juneau, police and family members spoke to an armed man near the end of the road north of Juneau who was in “emotional crisis” and posed a possible threat to himself, Juneau Police Department Lt. Krag Campbell said at the scene. Family members were able to convince the man to put his gun down and head to the hospital.

[Police, family members talk down armed man ‘in emotional crisis’]

According to the Alaska Bureau of Vital Statistics, as of 2015 Alaska had one of the highest rates of suicide per capita in the country. In 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, the rate of suicide nationwide was 12.57 per 100,000 people. In 2014, the Alaska Bureau of Vital Statistics, Alaska’s rate of suicides was 22.3 per 100,000 people.

The Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition, founded in 2008, has worked to raise awareness and help people and medical providers better recognize the warning signs of a person having suicidal thoughts. Friends and family need to keep their eyes and ears open, Young said.

“Suicide prevention is everybody’s business,” Young said. “It’s not like, ‘Oh I’m just going to refer them to the counselor and then they’re going to get better.’ People need to know and recognize the signs.”

If a friend or family member used to spend time with your social group but now does not, Young said, that’s something to pay attention to. If someone expresses that they’re feeling a loss of control or helplessness, that’s another sign. There’s a list of warning signs and risk factors available on www.juneausuicideprevention.org.

That website has a huge amount of resources, from links to training sessions to advice to links to national and local organizations that can help. Young said they’ve also put a great deal of effort into social media, and their Facebook page entitled “Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition” is regularly updated with links, personal stories and more. They are also on Instagram at www.instagram.com/juneausuicideprevention.

James Gallanos, the lead suicide prevention coordinator for the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Division of Behavioral Health, said he believes people and providers in Juneau have become more prepared to help those with suicidal thoughts. He said the Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition, which is state-funded, has been a large part of that.

Coalition members have gone around to medical providers in town, Gallanos said, to see if providers know the warning signs and know how to help those who are struggling. Medical providers, companies and individuals can sign up for training on the Coalition’s website to learn more about what to look for and how to help.

“It’s really helpful,” Gallanos said, “because normally people are really reluctant to get help when they’re in crisis.”

• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.

More in News

(Juneau E
Aurora forecast for the week of Nov. 27

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

Ron Ekis (wearing red) and Dakota Brown order from Devils Hideaway at the new Vintage Food Truck Park as Marty McKeown, owner of the property, shows seating facilities still under construction to other local media members on Wednesday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
New Vintage Food Truck Park makes year-round debut

Two of planned five food trucks now open, with covered seating and other offerings in the works.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

An aerial view of mud and forest debris that buried a stretch of the Zimovia Highway a day after a landslide struck an area of Wrangell on Nov. 21. (Photo courtesy of the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities)
Authorities in Wrangell suspend search for boy missing after deadly landslide

Authorities have suspended the search for the 12-year-old boy still missing following… Continue reading

Steve Bradford (left) and Mark Kissel, both vice presidents of the Riverside Condominiums Homeowners Association, discuss repairs to two of the complex’s buildings on Aug. 9 as a bulldozer places rock fill under a corner of one building exposed by erosion during record flooding of the Mendenhall River on Aug. 5. Repairs to both buildings ultimately were successful. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Juneau Community Foundation offering pool of $28,300 in relief funds to Suicide Basin flood victims

Deadline to apply is Dec. 31, funds will be divided among applicants.

Key Bank was one of the banks victimized by a Juneau man who was sentenced Tuesday to two-and-a-half years in prison for stealing nearly $580,000 multiple banks and credit unions between 2020 and 2022. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Former Juneau armored guard sentenced to 2½ years for stealing from banks, credit unions

Austin Nolan Dwight Rutherford, 29, convicted of stealing nearly $580,000 between 2020 and 2022.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Monday, Dec. 4, 2023

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

The Juneau School District is entangled in a dispute with the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development about supplemental funds the city provides for what the district calls non-instructional purposes such as after-school programs and pupil transportation. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire file photo)
State seeks to change rules for ‘local contribution’ funds to school districts beyond the ‘cap’

Education department abandons challenge under existing state law to Juneau, other districts.

A chart shows the proposed plans for each of the Alaska Marine Highway System’s nine ferries next summer under a schedule open for public comment until Dec. 19. (Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities)
Proposed ferry schedule for next summer looks a lot like this year’s — with one possible big exception

Cross-Gulf sailings will resume if enough crew hired; AMHS begins two-week public comment period.

Most Read