Goal 1: Alaskans Accept Responsibility for Preventing Suicide

Goal 1

Goal 1

 

Preventing suicide is every Alaskan’s responsibility. Like any other public health problem, suicide can be prevented through increased awareness, education, and targeted interventions to reduce and address risk. In order for these efforts to be successful, Alaskan individuals, families, communities, and governments must take ownership of the problem – and the solution.

What can you do?

Learn and understand that suicide is preventable

You're in the right place. StopSuicideAlaska.org has all sorts of information and resources that can help educate and improve awareness about suicide risk and effective interventions.  Other sources of information include:

 

Choose healthy, responsible lifestyles in order to serve as role models for younger generations

Alaskan youth need healthy role models at home and in their communities. Substance abuse by parents and community leaders was identified by stakeholders young and old as a major contributor to suicide. Given the evidence that substance abuse is involved in many reports of harm to Alaskan children, and research shows how adverse childhood experiences increase the risk of suicide in adulthood, it is important that every Alaskan adult make healthy and responsible lifestyle choices and model those choices for others.

Alaskans seeking to make healthy choices and overcome addictions and negative behaviors can learn more about treatment and support services from their medical provider, health educator, or community health/behavioral health aide. Mental health and substance abuse treatment options vary from community to community. Information about what is available is provided by Alaska 2-1-1, community behavioral health centers, health corporations, Careline, and the Advisory Board on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. 

Research shows that mental and emotional health can be improved and maintained just like physical health. Mental health promotion is as simple as adding five things to your life: exercise, social connection, acts of giving, self-awareness, and learning. 

Promoting mental and emotional wellness in your life and the lives of your family members is directly related to reducing the risk of suicide. Nationally, the data reflects a distinct link between depression and risk of suicide. The risk of suicide in people with major depression is about 20 times that of the general population. Depression can be prevented in some cases, and in others, it can be mitigated and managed, through proactive lifestyle changes that improve or maintain health.  

  • To find a mental health treatment provider in your community, call Alaska 2-1-1 (dial 211) or the Alaska Mental Health Board at 1-888-464-8920.
  • To find a substance abuse treatment provider in your community, call Alaska 2-1-1 or the Advisory Board on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse at 1-888-464-8920.
  • To find a primary care provider in your community, call Alaska 2-1-1 or the Alaska Primary Care Association at (907) 929-2722.
  • To learn more about how to improve and maintain mental and emotional health, talk to your medical provider, health educator, or community health/behavioral health aide or visit the Sound Minds in Sound Bodies project at http://hss.state.ak.us/abada/sound.htm.

 

Help your community develop environments of respect, value, and connectedness for all members

Risk factors for suicide include low self-esteem, psychological pain in response to loss or rejection, and lack of acceptance by family and community.  Shame, guilt, hopelessness, and purposelessness are also risk factors, often developing as a result of racism, discrimination, and exclusion based on cultural and personal differences.

Bullying, including “cyberbullying,” is rampant in American schools. Studies have found that 32-65% of high school students have reported being bullied in school because of “their perceived or actual appearance, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression, race/ethnicity, disability, or religion.” Bullying is associated with increased depression and risk of suicide among victims.

Research has shown connections between experienced and/or perceived racism and negative health consequences, especially regarding mental health. When someone is discriminated against, it has a real impact on his or her life and health.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Strategic Direction for Prevention of Suicidal Behavior proposes to prevent suicide by “building and strengthening connectedness or social bonds within and among persons, families and communities.” That feeling of connectedness or belonging has been proven to be highly protective against suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Communities can promote equality, inclusion, respect, and acceptance by coordinating and supporting efforts to create safe, inclusive, respectful environments for all members of the community; emphasizing the strengths and contributions of different cultures in the community; and instituting school and workplace policies that encourage inclusiveness and prohibit bullying and discrimination.

The PACER National Center on Bullying Prevention was founded in 2006 to unite, engage, and educate communities to address bullying. It provides creative and interactive resources, like Kids Against Bullying (for younger children) and Teens Against Bullying. These are interactive and age appropriate websites designed to educate about bullying and encourage action to prevent it.