Suicide Epidemic Discussed by Alaska Native Leaders

Alaska Native elders  from the Lower Yukon village of Alakanuk have successfully come together to prevent suicide locally. The community is stronger with no instances of suicide in recent years.

The Lower Yukon village’s tribal leaders will present on how they have dealt with suicide at the Alaska Tribal Leaders’ 13th annual summit meeting, held this week in Anchorage to address the suicide epidemic, reported All 229 tribes in Alaska are invited.

According to the Statewide Suicide Prevention Council, Alaska has the highest rate of suicide per capita in the U.S. with 1,369 suicides between 2000 and 2009, an average of 136 per year. Alaska Native men between ages 15 and 24 are affected at the highest rate.

Mike Williams Sr. of Akiak, one of the summit organizers, says suicide is devastating the state, and particularly Native villages.

“And my hope is that we are going to be identifying the underlying causes that is affecting the devastation in our communities, especially in these last 20 years,” Williams said.

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