Plan for prevention

This editorial first appeared in the Ketkchikan Daily News:

Suicide is a tragedy that occurs all too often in Alaska, including Ketchikan. Locally, the Ketchikan Wellness Coalition has a taskforce that works hard to prevent suicide in our immediate area by providing support and information. On a larger scale, Alaska’s Statewide Suicide Prevention Council advises the governor and Legislature on the issue.

The state council works also with community organizations to help prevent suicide, and alleviate the issues that can lead people to that desperate decision.

The council recently updated the state’s suicide prevention plan for 2012 through 2017, and is accepting public comment on the draft plan, called “Casting the Net Upstream: Promoting Wellness to Prevent Suicide in Alaska.”

The draft plan is available online at www.alaska.gov, www.hss.state.ak.us/suicideprevention and www.StopSuicideAlaska.org. Comments will be taken through 5 p.m. Nov. 30, 2011, and can be mailed to Eric Morrison, council assistant, Statewide Suicide Prevention Council, 431 N. Franklin, Suite 200, Juneau, AK 99801; or emailed to eric.morrison(at)alaska.gov.

The approximately 50-page document includes outcomes that will be evaluated to ensure that the plan is effective. The update process began with a summit in January 2010. From there, council members solicited public comment and expert input before reviewing the information last fall to create specific goals and strategies.

The draft plan was organized to reflect current research and understanding of suicidal behavior, which develops from a combination of genetic, developmental, environmental, physiological, psychological, social and cultural factors, according to the draft.

The plan calls for mending the net of services and supports in place to prevent suicide, promoting physical, emotional and mental wellness, and strengthening personal and community resilience. Suicide prevention includes promoting health, improving awareness and understanding, crisis intervention and “postvention,” the response to a suicide, including helping families through the grieving process and helping a person who survives an attempted suicide to prevent further attempts.

It’s worth our time to read this document, and educate ourselves about suicide and how to prevent it.

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