With an average of 2.6 suicides in the state every week, Alaska has the highest rate of suicide per capita in the country1. The number of teen suicides is even more staggering. Every year, there are nearly 33 suicides per 100,000 in youth between the ages 15 and 192. In that same age range, 8.5% of Alaska teens reported that they had attempted suicide during 2009-20103. To address this devastating issue, Representative Anna Fairclough championed a state appropriation to The Alaska Community Foundation and the Alaska Children’s Trust to create a grant program to promote community-based efforts to support suicide prevention efforts across the state. The Alaska Community Foundation was proud to match dollar for dollar the state appropriation for this important program for community wellness in Alaska.
The Teen Suicide Prevention program awarded eleven grants totaling $50,000 to a range of entities across Alaska, including nonprofits, churches, government agencies and tribes. The grant awards are funding projects that aim to promote physical, mental, and spiritual wellness to prevent teen suicide. The following grant recipients will use these funds to promote local efforts to prevent teen suicide in their community:
- Allakaket Tribal Council will host monthly cultural activities to promote positive engagement and community wellness.
- Lower Kalskag Traditional Council will develop community support networks with a focus on finding healthy adults for teens to connect with.
- St. James Episcopal Church will host a week-long workshop in Tanana focused on community wellness utilizing Athabascan music.
- Tok Area Counseling Center will conduct community outreach targeting teens coping with the loss of a community member, and educate teens on signs of suicide and available resources.
- South Peninsula Behavioral Health Services will create a peer-to-peer educational film promoting suicide awareness in Homer.
- Wellspring Revival Ministries will introduce at-risk youth to employment opportunities through a job-shadowing program in Fairbanks.
- Native Village of Kalskag will keep their community center open so the community can engage in cultural activities and elder/youth gatherings.
- Iliamna Village Council will start a teen suicide prevention program that engages teens by providing evening and weekend activities for youth.
- Juneau Youth Services will incorporate Sources of Strength, a comprehensive wellness program delivered by peer leaders, into school-based programming to better reach students.
- Tuntutuliak Traditional Council will create a suicide prevention program that will inform community members of the warning signs of suicide and available resources.
- Shishmaref Wellness Coalition will host a Youth Hunting and Survival Skills camp in the spring of 2013. The camp will emphasize healthy cultural activities and a subsistence lifestyle.
For more information about suicide prevention efforts and resources in Alaska please visit StopSuicideAlaska.org.
Alaska Children’s Trust (ACT), founded in 1988, is focused on changing the way Alaskans think about child abuse and neglect prevention, focusing on community activities and public policies that prioritize prevention right from the start to make sure Alaskan children remain safe. Since its conception, ACT has led the way in building awareness, providing education, and bringing communities together statewide to prevent child abuse and neglect. ACT recognizes that the healthy child development is an essential building block for community and economic development. To learn more about ACT, visit www.alaskachildrenstrust.org.
Established in 1995, The Alaska Community Foundation is a statewide platform for philanthropy. Holding over $55 million for the benefit of Alaskans, ACF grants $5-6 million each year to charitable projects and nonprofit organizations across the state. The Alaska Community Foundation is comprised of more than 280 funds and endowments, including nine Affiliate community funds, the Alaska Children’s Trust, and many others. The ACF mission is to grow philanthropy by helping individuals, organizations, and communities create funds that provide financial resources to improve the quality of life in Alaska now and forever. The Alaska Community Foundation connects people who care with causes that matter. For more information, visit www.alaskacf.org or call (907) 334-6700.
 Suicide Statistics for Alaska – 2010, State of Alaska Suicide Prevention Council
 Alaska Suicide Rate by Age 1994-2000, CDC WISQARS Injury Mortality Report
 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, Kids Count Alaska 2009-10 Data Book