Story last updated at 5/11/2011 - 12:39 pm
Capital City Weekly Staff Report
JUNEAU - Many Southeast Alaska communities will host "Walk For Life" suicide prevention events on Saturday, May 14. The "Walk For Life program" began two years ago in the Northwest Arctic Borough, when events were held in Kotzebue and other villages in the area. Last year it expanded to the Nome area, and this year events will be held in Southeast Alaska for the first time.
The Southeast communities of Hoonah, Angoon, Kake, Juneau, Wrangell and Klukwan will host events on May 14, with Sitka hosting its event in June and Metlakatla hosting an event in July, according to a press release from the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium, one of the sponsors of the events.
Other sponsors for the Southeast Walk For Life events include the State of Alaska Division of Public Health; the Hoonah School District; the Hoonah Behavioral Health and Suicide Work Group; the Angoon, Metlakatla and Wrangell Health Centers; the Juneau, Klukwan, Kake and Sitka Behavioral Health Prevention Programs; and the Northwest Arctic Borough.
The theme for the Walk For Life events is to "Live, Laugh, Love: Let's celebrate life and say 'No!' to suicide."
Alaska has one of the highest suicide rates in the country. According to the 2010 Annual Report prepared by the Statewide Suicide Prevention Council, the number and rate of suicides in the state has not decreased over the past decade since the Council was created. However, wrote Council Chair William Martin, "What has changed is that people in Alaska are talking - and talking a lot - about how suicide affects us and how we can prevent it."
Organizers of Walk for Life events hope that the events will encourage this discussion, as well as offer a celebration of life.
Listed below are event details as of presstime, provided by SEARHC. Details still are being finalized for some of the Southeast events, so check with the listed contact person or watch for fliers and information to be posted.
Hoonah - Meet at 12:30 p.m. at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall for a 1 p.m. walk around town and back to ANB. Hoonah Indian Association will provide hot dogs and drinks. Contact: Public Health Nurse Sonja Engle at 465-1241 (Juneau).
Angoon - Meet at 12:30 p.m. at the Angoon Community Association for a 1 p.m. walk around town and back to ACA. Contact: Randy Gamble of SEARHC at 788-4640.
Kake - Meet at 12:30 p.m. at Kake High School for a 1 p.m. walk around town and back to the high school. Snacks will be served. Contact: Scott Jackson of SEARHC at 785-6519.
Juneau - Meet at 12:30 p.m. at the Juneau Arts and Cultural Center for a 1 p.m. walk around town and back to the JACC. Walk will allow people to take part in the Maritime Festival in Juneau. Contact: Megan Gregory of SEARHC at 463-6645.
Wrangell - Event details TBA for a walk starting and ending at KSTK radio station. Contact: Linda Churchill at 874-2673.
Klukwan - Event details TBA for a walk in Klukwan. Contact: Joanne (Elsie) Spud of SEARHC at 767-5592.
Sitka - Local event to take place in June with date and location TBA. Contact: Sheryl McAllister of SEARHC at 966-8933.
Metlakatla - Local event to take place on Saturday, July 16, at a location TBA. Contact: Sandy Wilson of the Annette Island Service Unit clinic at 886-4741.
A limited number of Walk For Life t-shirts will be provided at each of the Southeast events by the SEARHC Behavioral Health/Suicide Prevention Program.
SEARHC reminds residents that the 24/7 toll-free SEARHC Help Line, 1-877-294-0074, is available for use by any Southeast Alaska resident who might need help working through a crisis. The SEARHC Help Line is staffed by a team of master's-degree-level mental health therapists who will listen and provide effective, compassionate and confidential care. The SEARHC Help Line is offered as a free resource to complement the care provided at SEARHC Behavioral Health clinics.