World Suicide Prevention Day Brings Expert to Fairbanks

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) A national suicide prevention expert came to talk to health professionals and care providers at the Fairbanks memorial hospital this past Monday for World Suicide Prevention Day.

A national suicide prevention expert came to talk to health professionals and care providers at the Fairbanks memorial hospital this past Monday for World Suicide Prevention Day. (Carly Sjordal/KTVF)

According to facts and figures by the American Foundation for Suicide prevention, suicide is the 5th leading cause of death in Alaska, ranking our state the second highest in the nation.

Jill Harkavy-Friedman, The Vice President of Research for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, hopes to change that. Their organization is reported to have given 6.3 million this year, and provides support for survivors of suicide.

Her lectures to the Fairbanks memorial staff workers focused on preventing suicide including advice about limiting access to lethal means, as many people living in Alaska are firearm owners. She said that people may not consider their kids’ friends that come over, family members, that anyone coming into their household could be suicidal.

“If you have access to lethal means, that’s the way you die from it. So we’re really trying to start a conversation so that when people are in distress they know what they can do and where they can go for help.” Said Harkavy-Friedman.

She also encourages concerned persons to ask individuals at risk directly if they suspect they are suicidal to open dialogue by quoting:

“The point is that when you have a conversation, and you just check in with somebody that you’re worried about, and say: “How are you doing? I’m worried about you. Sometimes when people think this way they think about suicide and think about taking their life. Are you feeling like life isn’t worth living? How can I help, because you matter to me. ”

She adds that it doesn’t solve the problem, but you may be helping them out in that moment.

Harkavy-Friedman also noted that the local community could help the organization in various ways. Participating in fundraising events such as runs, you could sign up to be an advocate for their website AFSP.ORG, Work with local chapters to bring programs to local schools and medical centers.

“We know that people can feel better. We know that there’s a lot we could do to prevent suicide in our lives.” She added finally.

If anyone is feeling like they need help they can contact the National Suicide prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text TALK to 741741.

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