December 11 2011
Education and prevention were among the major topics discussed when the “1 is 2 Many” regional suicide prevention task force for Southeast Alaska met Dec. 1-2 at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service building in Juneau.
The regional task force was created in January 2010 to create a regional suicide prevention plan that could be taken back to local communities. Now the task force is working to make people aware of suicide and binge drinking prevention resources and training available in Southeast Alaska. The task force is funded by a variety of state and federal suicide prevention grants managed by the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Behavioral Health/Suicide Prevention program. The task force features community members from a variety of organizations throughout Southeast Alaska, such as medical and behavioral health professionals, clergy, law enforcement, the U.S. Coast Guard, community and SEARHC Board members, school officials, tribal leaders, youth representatives and survivors of suicide.
“It is great to work with such a diverse group addressing suicide prevention, adult binge drinking and underage drinking,” SEARHC Behavioral Health/Suicide Prevention Program Manager Wilbur Brown Jr. said. “They bring a rich cultural and community perspective to prevention work in the communities. We have a great group of people who care for our youth and our communities.”
The program recently received a Garrett Lee Smith Grant from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to work with youth suicide prevention efforts in Southeast communities. This grant can help fund programs such as SEARHC’s Youth Ambassadors, which works with local high schools to create peer support to help students find alternatives to suicide. The program also recently received a Statewide Prevention Framework State Incentive Grant from the Alaska Department of Health and Human Services to prevent underage drinking (ages 12-20) and adult binge drinking (ages 21-44). Alcohol use is a contributing factor in many of Alaska’s suicides.
The task force reviewed postvention packets that include resources for loved ones who are dealing with a suicide and the grief it causes. There was information about upcoming training opportunities for community members who want to learn about suicide prevention and intervention, such as Gatekeeper or safeTALK. Another topic was expanding area culture camps and cultural education, which help people get a sense of belonging in their communities. The task force discussed a media campaign that includes several radio PSAs, digital storytelling and posters promoting the SEARHC Help Line (1-877-294-0074) and other resources.
The task force will next meet by teleconference at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 26. To learn more about the 1 is 2 Many regional suicide prevention task force and how to become involved, or to give ideas about how the task force can work in Southeast communities, contact Wilbur Brown at 966-8753.