December 22 2010Sitka residents are invited to participate in the “Hands Across the Bridge” suicide prevention/awareness event from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, Friday, Dec. 31. People will gather starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall on Katlian Street to remember those who have been lost to suicide and to reach out to those who need a hand. Clergy from around Sitka will say a prayer about 6 p.m., and then people will be invited to share their memories and reflect on those who have been lost. About 7:30 p.m., members of the group will walk to the O’Connell Bridge where they will hold a candlelight vigil for those who have been lost to suicide and to show their support for the surviving family members and friends. This event is designed to help those people who may be struggling with issues related to suicide, and to let them know that it’s OK to reach out and talk about it and that members of the community care. This event is sponsored by the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Behavioral Health Prevention/Suicide Prevention program and the Sitka branch of the “1 is 2 Many” regional suicide prevention task force for Southeast Alaska. For more information, contact SEARHC Behavioral Health Prevention/Suicide Prevention Community Project Assistant Sheryl McAllister at 966-8933 or call Sitka Counseling And Prevention Services (SCAPS) Intake/Quality Assurance Specialist Carol Lundy at 747-3636. 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.