There will be six communities participating in “Walk for Life” suicide prevention events on Saturday, coordinated by SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium.
The theme for the 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 (about double the national average), and the Walk For Life program hopes to help people celebrate life so they don’t think about suicide.
The program started in May 2009 with the Northwest Arctic Borough hosting events in Kotzebue and surrounding villages, and last year it expanded to include the Nome-Kawerak Inc. area. The communities hosted short walks around town, and many communities followed the walk with a community potluck. Last May about 2,500 people participated.
This year, the Southeast communities of Hoonah, Angoon, Kake, Juneau, Wrangell and Klukwan will host events on Saturday, with Sitka hosting its event in June and Metlakatla hosting an event in July. Details still are being finalized for some of the Southeast events.
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 to be announced 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 July 16 at a location TBA. Contact: Sandy Wilson of the Annette Island Service Unit clinic at 886-4741.
The sponsors for the Southeast Walk For Life events include SEARHC; 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.
Also, the 24/7 toll-free SEARHC Help Line, (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.