Every year, suicide claims more lives than war, murder and natural disasters combined, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

This week, in the midst of all the other challenges facing the nation, Americans are focusing on suicide prevention.

Every day, the Center for Disease Control reports that approximately 117 people in this country take their own life and historically Alaska has among the highest suicide rates.

Sierra Frost grew up in Homer where she says she was sexually abused for a decade. 

The years that followed were full of mental health issues, addiction and other things that go along with trauma.

She says she was just 12 the first time she thought about taking her own life.

Even after all she's been through, Frost says she's grateful for her experiences because she's now using them to help others cope.

“I hope that it can help people by validating that they're not alone, by allowing them to see that life and happiness and joy and fulfillment is possible and even probable,” Frost said.

She travels to teach classes about mental health and suicide prevention.

Frost lives in Colorado but is in Anchorage this week to teach a course called "mental health first aid".

She's also participating in the Out of Darkness Walk happening on the Delaney Park Strip on Saturday.

The event is part of a nationwide movement to raise awareness and money to invest in new research, support survivors of suicide loss, and create educational programs, including the ones that have become Frost's passion.

“I think sometimes we feel very much alone. We know that mental health is an issue and suicide is an epidemic in America but the question isn't really does it happen, as much as it is what we do about it,” Frost said.

Frost's goal is to teach people how to talk through personal issues, listen to loved ones who suffer from depression or self-harm and empower people with simple strategies and skills they can use to stay safe during a crisis.

If you are in crisis, please call the Alaska’s statewide suicide prevention and crisis support hotline.
877-266-4357. The hotline is available every day, 24/7.

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