According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Alaska has one of the highest rates of death by suicide in the nation — but there are resources available. The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium is offering free training and workshops to give more Alaska Natives the tools to help. 

"It affects everyone, anywhere, and it can affect anybody in any community," said Carrie Rowland who coordinates ANTHC's suicide prevention program. 

The commitment varies depending on the course, ranging from as little as one hour to several days. 

SafeTalk is a four-hour suicide alertness workshop that teaches participants to recognize basic suicide warning signs and connect at-risk loved ones with intervention resources. 

Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training is a two-day intensive workshop.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide most often occurs when "stressors and health issues converge to create an experience of hopelessness and despair."

Stressors could include a major life event like a divorce, exposure to someone else's suicide and prolonged stress from harassment or bullying.

Health issues may include mental health conditions, traumatic brain injury or serious physical health conditions causing pain. 

"Conditions like depression, anxiety and substance problems, especially when unaddressed, increase risk for suicide," AFSP says. 

September is suicide prevention awareness month, and AFSP is hosting the Out of the Darkness Walk in Anchorage on Saturday, Sept. 14. 

Rowland says it's important to build a community support network, particularly among young people. ANTHC is hosting a youth photo contest called Tell Your Heart Story.

"It serves the purpose of letting the youth up to age 25 for Alaska Natives to express what gives them hope and strength in their daily lives and helps them keep moving forward," Rowland said. "Or even to discuss or give them expression of some of the challenges that they have had and what has gotten them through those challenges."

Providence Alaska Medical Center has also compiled a comprehensive list of mental health resources that are available to everyone.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, immediate help is available 24/7 through the Alaska CARELINE at 877-266-4357 HELP. Or text 4help to 839863 from 3 to 11 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.

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