Yées Ḵu.oo Dancers perform their exit song.
Juneau, Alaska (KINY). Juneau Suicide Prevention and NAMI partnered to host Sandy Beach’s community barbecue on Saturday afternoon.
Above: Yées Ḵu.oo Dancers perform their canoe song. Yées Ḵu.oo Dancers stated it’s a song about “as long as you paddle together, you can make it through any storm.” Yées Ḵu.oo is a multi-cultural local dance group, Tlingit, Haida, and Tshimian. Below: Yées Ḵu.oo drummers.
Tina DeAsis–Samaniego, Juneau Suicide Prevention’s program coordinator, spoke about the meaning of gathering today.
“Alaska is second in the nation as far as rates of suicide. This is International Suicide Prevention Awareness Day. What we want is for this event to bring community supporting community. So we’re a coalition. We have many, many partners. And we’ve all come together and orchestrated this beautiful thing to support the community, bring awareness to suicide, as well as some of our prevention efforts, and break the stigma of suicide.”
Samaniego, DeAsis, and Samaniego discussed how they have broken down stigmatizations of mental health and raised awareness.
“Being able to talk about it. Being able to come in the public. We have canoe journeys that are happening. Those journeys were set up specifically for folks that had been affected by suicide. So the first reservations are for suicide loss survivors and attempt survivors.”
DeAsis Samaniego spoke out about the 988 national numbers.
“I love that use of the number 988. And I think it’s important to have easy access to that. I don’t know if folks know that we can text that number as well. It automatically hooks you up to someone with your phone’s area code. If it’s an emergency they’ll try to get your consent to send someone to your house.”
DeAsis Samaniego shared information about suicide prevention in Juneau in celebration of Suicide Awareness Month.
“All month long we have displays up and resources in all three libraries. Zach Gordon, there will be an art activity for our youth. Another big partner is the Juneau School District and we do signs of suicide in the high schools and are just starting to do that again in the middle schools. Something that’s like a club, Sources of Strength. Then out at the university, we have a program that may not kick off until the winter this year, and that is Why I Stay.”
DeAsis Samaniego also provided information about the prevention tools they have for Juneau.
“JSPC is a program of Namie Juneau. And they also provide support groups. We do community education. If I have a loved one that is suffering, but I don’t know how to recognize some of those signs, I’m going to be less able to help that individual. So we offer training with the belief that community takes care of community. We provide training to recognize what those signs are and to know how to ask the question, are you thinking of suicide? How to persuade that individual to get some help and know where to refer them. We’ve got training this coming week on Wednesday. You’ll see all of our events are always going to be posted on our Facebook. But it’ll be online on Wednesday evening, I believe it starts at five and then Saturday morning.”
They also offer post-ventional care, she said.
“One thing that we do is in the event that there is a suicide loss. It’s really a difficult time. And so we call that postvention, which is also prevention, but we call that postvention. We’re here to support families and just guide them really to the support that they need. And just to help to triage. Juneau Mental Health, we manage that online. It gives also some access to some information.”
DeAsis Samaniego explained that anyone can participate in Juneau Suicide Prevention.
“If you are interested in suicide prevention and promoting mental wellness, there’s a place for you. And that can be individuals or organizations. Find us online, the Juneau Suicide Prevention. Sign up to receive our newsletters. You can also contact me at https://www.juneausuicideprevention.org/. Monthly coalition meetings every third Wednesday, from three o’clock to 4:30. And currently that is still online.”