SE communities host ‘Walk For Life’ suicide prevention events

May 05 2011

The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) is joining with eight Southeast Alaska communities to host local “Walk For Life” suicide prevention events at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 14. 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 (not all) 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 will host events on May 14, with Sitka hosting its event in June and Metlakatla hosting an event in July. Details still are being finalized for some of the Southeast events, so if details aren’t listed below check with the listed contact person or watch for fliers and information to be posted. A limited number of Walk For Life t-shirts will be provided at each of the Southeast events by the SEARHC Behavioral Health/Suicide Prevention Program.
  • Hoonah — Meet at 12:30 p.m. at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall for a 1 p.m. walk around town and back to ANB. Hoonah Indian Association will provide hot dogs and drinks. Contact: Public Health Nurse Sonja Engle at 465-1241 (Juneau).
  • Angoon — Meet at 12:30 p.m. at the Angoon Community Association for a 1 p.m. walk around town and back to ACA. Contact: Randy Gamble of SEARHC at 788-4640.
  • Kake — Meet at 12:30 p.m. at Kake High School for a 1 p.m. walk around town and back to the high school. Snacks will be served. Contact: Scott Jackson of SEARHC at 785-6519.
  • Juneau — Meet at 12:30 p.m. at the Juneau Arts and Cultural Center for a 1 p.m. walk around town and back to the JACC. Walk will allow people to take part in the Maritime Festival in Juneau. Contact: Megan Gregory of SEARHC at 463-6645.
  • Wrangell — Event details TBA for a walk starting and ending at KSTK radio station. Contact: Linda Churchill at 874-2673.
  • Klukwan — Event details TBA for a walk in Klukwan. Contact: Joanne (Elsie) Spud of SEARHC at 767-5592.
  • Sitka — Local event to take place in June with date and location TBA. Contact: Sheryl McAllister of SEARHC at 966-8933.
  • Metlakatla — Local event to take place on Saturday, July 16, at a location TBA. Contact: Sandy Wilson of the Annette Island Service Unit clinic at 886-4741.
The sponsors for the Southeast Walk For Life events include SEARHC; the State of Alaska Division of Public Health; the Hoonah School District; the Hoonah Behavioral Health and Suicide Work Group; the Angoon, Metlakatla and Wrangell Health Centers; the Juneau, Klukwan, Kake and Sitka Behavioral Health Prevention Programs; and the Northwest Arctic Borough. 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.