Blog entry

AFSP-AK Chapter to host event at State Capitol March 22

Suicide prevention is an issue that all Alaskans should take to heart, said American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Alaska Chapter member Jim Biela.
 
“Talking openly and directly about suicide will help ease the stigma that continues to be held about suicide,” he said. “There are excellent programs that are evidence based that have been proven to work in the cities and rural villages of Alaska.”   
 
The AFSP Alaska Chapter will hold Alaska State Capitol Day, a public event at the capitol on March 22, to help promote suicide prevention and reduce stigma surrounding the topic.  The event will be held from noon to 1 p.m. in State Capitol Room 106.
 
The AFSP Alaska Chapter formed in 2010 by volunteers as a non-profit grassroots campaign to help bring awareness to suicide. Its work includes funding scientific research, developing public education, advocating for public policies in mental health and suicide prevention, and supporting survivors of suicide loss and those affected by suicide.  The Alaska Chapter also helps support events, like the Alaska Capitol Day as well as International Survivor of Suicide Day Loss events held across the state each November.
 
Biela, AFSP Alaska Chapter Field Ambassador and Survivor Outreach Program Coordinator, said suicide is one of Alaska’s biggest issues. Suicide is the fifth leading cause of death in Alaska. An estimated 200 people died by suicide in Alaska in 2015.
 
“Paying more attention to suicide prevention and education is of the utmost importance in Alaska,” Biela said. “Our efforts encourage state and federal lawmakers to pass bills not only to improve mental health services but to educate schools, clinicians, and communities everywhere on the signs of suicide. We have urged lawmakers and military leaders to actively address suicide in our military veterans and service members. These are important steps we must take along our path to a world without suicide.”
 
Along with the presentation at noon, AFSP-Alaska Chapter volunteers and advocates will meet with state legislators as part of its State Advocacy Day. Their goal is to explain the history of AFSP as the nation’s leading non-profit organization dedicated to suicide prevention, research, education programs, and outreach throughout the 50 states.   
 
To register for the March 22 event, visit http://tinyurl.com/AlaskaCapDay. For more information, contact Jim Biela at James_biela.afspak@yahoo.com.