ALASKA: Opening a new dialogue on suicide prevention in Alaska

July 17, 2015
News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark News
State:  Alaska


Some Alaskan suicide prevention leaders are prioritizing community-based responses to the state’s high suicide rate. At this year’s Rural Providers Conference, hosted by the Alaska Native advocacy organization Kawerak, researcher Lisa Wexler and educator Diane McEachern invited participants to share their own knowledge and experience to explain the fact that in Alaska, youth suicide rates go up in the summer. The group identified several likely seasonal risk factors for young people in their state, laying the groundwork for a conversation about possible solutions. Pananga Pungowiyi, wellness director at Kawerak, described how community members, once they recognize risk factors, can address them from a number of angles. “There are things that are done in our community that are not necessarily called suicide prevention,” she said. “Fostering healthy relationships between people, helping people understand how to express their emotions…those are really important skills that need to be fostered in our young peoples.”

Spark Extra! Learn more about community-based youth suicide prevention strategies in Alaska.

Populations:  Youth, American Indians and Alaska Natives
Settings:  American Indian/Alaska Native Settings
Planning and Implementing:  Culturally Based Practices