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Sitka to host ‘Walk For Life’ suicide prevention event on Saturday

Posted: June 20, 2011 - 9:55pm

The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium Behavioral Health/Suicide Prevention Program is hosting a “Walk For Life” suicide prevention event at 9 a.m. on Saturday in Sitka.

Registration for this event starts at 8:30 a.m. at Blatchley Middle School. Participants will walk through downtown Sitka starting at 9 a.m., eventually arriving at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall. Walk For Life T-shirts are available for the first 35 participants, and snacks will be available at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall at the end of the walk.

The theme for the Walk For Life 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 Walk For Life 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 of the communities followed the walk with a community potluck. Last May about 2,500 people participated (the North Slope Borough planned to hold its own Walk For Life events in August).

This year, the Southeast communities of Hoonah, Angoon, Kake, Juneau, Wrangell and Klukwan joined the northern communities by hosting Walk For Life events on May 14. Due to scheduling conflicts, Sitka decided to host its event on June 25, and more event details are available from Sheryl McAllister of the SEARHC Behavioral Health/Suicide Prevention Program at 966-8933. Metlakatla also will host a late Walk For Life event on July 16 (contact Sandy Wilson of the Annette Island Service Unit clinic at 886-4741 for details).

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. The SEARHC Help Line is offered as a free resource to complement the care provided at SEARHC Behavioral Health clinics throughout the region.

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