Suicide is an issue that plagues many of our communities. Alaska has one of the highest rates of suicide in the country. And it’s not just adults struggling. According to Alaska’s Suicide Prevention Council, suicide is the leading cause of death among Alaska youth over the age of 15.
As someone who works in child social services, I see the struggles that our youth face. Whether it’s mental health or substance use that leads to thoughts of suicide, it’s heartbreaking to see. The past two years have been incredibly difficult for kids and teens. The pandemic caused stressful home situations with parents losing jobs and families losing loved ones. Additionally, youth and adults were isolated during shutdowns.
However, when we talk about suicide, we need to remember that it’s preventable. That’s the main message of National Suicide Prevention Month. Everyone needs to do their part to help. Don’t be afraid to talk about it, especially if you suspect someone in your life is struggling. Show people, you care by asking if they’re OK. Get them the help they need. We have a list of emergency services on our website. And finally, don’t drop the ball. Continue to follow up and keep them safe.
It might be uncomfortable at first, but the topic of suicide shouldn’t be taboo. With so many families struggling right now it needs to be talked about. Because when people get the right help, they survive. Working together we can save lives.
-Amy Simonds Taylor, Executive Director