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Student Suicide Prevention Media Contest entrants honored, winners to air on GCI

HEALY – The Alaska Association of Student Governments (AASG), the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) and GCI honored students from all corners of Alaska on April 11 by awarding prizes in the Student Suicide Prevention Media Contest. The Bethel Regional High School Student Council took first and second place while Cara Chapman and the Chugiak High School Student Council took third.

In the winning entry, Bethel classmates showed how negative words act as burdening weights, and when someone is there to help or listen, the weight is shared. The second place video features dozens of Bethel students and staff moving around a gymnasium floor and spelling out a message of hope and unity. Chapman and her Chugiak classmates filmed their third place message near a wall of hope in their school, where fellow students wrote what they lived for on pieces of paper and added the messages to the wall.

The students at Bethel Regional High School recognized the importance of using their creativity and sharing their stories as part of combating the impact of suicide around Alaska and among their peers.

“We felt it was our part to help combat the issue. Additionally, our student council this year has worked diligently with our administration to improve the school climate for all students,” said Mitchell Forbes, Bethel Regional High School student council president. “With our videos, we aimed to show our student body the effect they can have on each other, whether it is positive or negative.”

All contest submissions are available now for online viewing at http://bit.ly/YA41rY. The top entries are being turned into television public service announcements, which GCI will air around Alaska. Last year’s winning PSAs ran more than 200,000 times over the year on statewide cable. GCI and ANTHC received the Outstanding Community Support Award for hosting the statewide media campaign and for giving students an opportunity to share with others the important message: you are not alone.

ANTHC’s Barbara Franks, Suicide Prevention Program Associate, has attended the AASG conference every year and knows that events like these empower youth to use their voice and make positive changes for their peers and communities.

“As I shared with the students, I want you to be able to ask your friend if they have thoughts of suicide, but to also be prepared for any answer they give and to know who can help with the next level of care. They are prepared, they are not afraid to ask, and they are determined to keep suicide prevention awareness as part of their annual goal,” said Franks.

The next AASG conference is scheduled for October 17-19 2013 in Juneau.

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