FAIRBANKS, Alaska The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is a national organization whose mission statement is to 'save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide.' They have a local chapter in all fifty states including Alaska. Board member of the Alaska chapter Morgan Clay says the Alaska chapter brings programs to communities, schools and workplaces to introduce suicide prevention and how each person plays a part.
Clay says it’s a good time to check in with those around you and open up conversations about how they are doing and how it is a tough time of the year. "So right now we're at a crucial time of year, in between March and May, we see depression rates and suicide rates start to rise," said Clay.
"If you sense a red flag, whether it's with a mental illness or if you think they're having suicidal thoughts, one, take them aside and say something privately, you never want to do it out in the open in front of other people, and put them on the spot. But offer them just a listening ear really, someone who is struggling with a mental illness, I like to say they feel like they're on depression island, they feel alone and they feel isolated, and by just listening you're offering them a life boat, you're offering them a chance to open up a conversation and take that conversation where they need it to go," said Clay.
Clay says one resource to utilize is Careline, a crisis hot line that you can call when you need to talk and also help someone else call.
Careline: 1-877-266-HELP or text 4help to 839863
"I can tell you first hand that it's really scary calling that phone number, to start that conversation yourself is a difficult thing to do, but we can offer somebody a huge lifeline by saying can I call this number for you? Can I call this number with you? And start the conversation because that's really the scariest part, but once you do that, the ball starts rolling and you really feel lighter, like a weight has come off your shoulders by starting that conversation," said Clay.
The out of the darkness community walk on April 27th is AFSP's annual fundraiser and Clay says also a time for the community to come together to prevent future deaths by suicide.