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SE communities plan ‘Walk For Life’ suicide prevention events


SITKA, April 12, 2012 — The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Behavioral Health/Suicide Prevention Program is joining with at least 14 Southeast Alaska communities to host local “Walk For Life” suicide prevention events at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 12.

Teams in each community are organizing their local events now, and community members are welcome to join the process. Nearly all of the events start at 1 p.m. on May 12 this year (with a 12:30 p.m. registration), although the Klukwan/Haines event starts at 8 a.m. to combine with the annual Chilkat River Walk/Run/Ride breast cancer awareness event the same day between those two communities.

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 the next year it expanded to include the Nome-Kawerak Inc. area. The communities hosted short walks around town, and many (not all) of the communities followed the walk with a community potluck. Last year, eight Southeast communities joined the now-statewide effort, which has more than 3,000 people participants.

The Southeast communities involved this year and their local contacts are Rena Wallace (966-8755) and Sheryl McAllister (966-8933) in Sitka; Scotty Jackson (785-6519) in Kake; Steven Frank (788-4636) and Randy Gamble (957-6386) in Angoon; Joanne “Elsie” Spud (767-5592) in Klukwan/Haines; Megan Gregory (463-6645) in Juneau; Tim Booth (755-2140) on Prince of Wales Island (Klawock, Craig, Kasaan, Thorne Bay, Coffman Cove); Mary Morris (285-3465) in Hydaburg; Sandra Wilson (617-3343) in Metlakatla; Linda Churchill (470-3157 or 874-2673) in Wrangell; Caitlin Stewart (228-9401) in Ketchikan; Lorena Williams (784-3070) in Yakutat; Candy Keown (945-3545) in Hoonah; and a contact TBA in Petersburg. Watch for more details on each community’s event as we get closer to May 12.

“The SEARHC Behavioral Health/Suicide Prevention Program is happy to sponsor this event,” program manager Wilbur Brown Jr. said. “We look forward to raising awareness about suicide and our prevention efforts such as the ‘1 is 2 Many’ regional suicide task force.”

Also, the 24/7 toll-free SEARHC Help Line (1-877-294-0074) 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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