Suicide prevention advocates make an impact in Juneau

From left are Olinka Peterson of Bethel, Ethan Therchik of Toksook Bay, and Bosco Charles of Newtok.

by James Biela

Suicide Prevention Advocates with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)- Alaska Chapter traveled to Juneau to meet the legislators and discuss keeping mental health and suicide prevention as a priority for the state of Alaska.

AFSP advocate Ethan Therchik from Toksook Bay received a challenge coin from Deputy Commissioner Michael Duxbury after sharing his powerful story today (March 29th, 2019). We are so proud of Ethan and the difference he is making for the people of Alaska and his village. Ethan had such a strong impact to all the legislators by sharing his story at a Candlelight Vigil held on the Capitol steps on March 26, 2019. AFSP is proud to have him as an advocate. He represented LKSD in a great professional manner.

The Alaska Chapter also held a candlelight vigil Tuesday night (March 26, 2019) on the Capitol steps where people shared their stories as suicide survivors while dozens braved wind gusts and listened closely.  Members from around the state arrived from Bethel, Toksook Bay, Newtok, Anchorage and Fairbanks to meet with lawmakers for two days.

The Chapter laid out 200 lanterns to reflect the number of Alaska lives lost to suicide in 2017 with blue ribbons to indicate family or friend who died by suicide. Prior to the opening ceremony Wilton Charles (drummer), Olinka Peterson (Bethel), Ethan Therchik (Toksook Bay) and Bosco Charles (Newtok) preformed a blessing song.

If you or someone you know needs help, you can call the Stop Suicide Alaska Hotline at 1-877-266-HELP.

James Biela is the Field Ambassador/Survivor Outreach Coordinator for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – Alaska Chapter.