The Yées Ḵu.oo dancers perform their exit song.
Juneau, Alaska (KINY) – Juneau Suicide Prevention, in conjunction with NAMI, hosted a community barbecue and canoe healing trips to Sandy Beach on Saturday afternoon.
Above: Yées Ḵu.oo dancers perform their canoe song. Yées Ḵu.oo Dancers said it was a song about “as long as you paddle together, you can weather any storm”. Yées Ḵu.oo is a local multicultural, Tlingit, Haida and Tshimian dance group. Below: the drummers of Yées Ḵu.oo.
Tina DeAsis-Samaniego, the program coordinator with Juneau Suicide Prevention, spoke about the significance of the rally today.
“Alaska is the second highest in the nation in terms of suicide rates. It’s International Suicide Prevention Awareness Day. What we want is for this event to bring together a community of community support. We 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, raise awareness about suicide, and some of our prevention efforts, and break the stigma of suicide.”
DeAsis-Samaniego shared how they break mental health stigma and raise awareness.
“Being able to talk about it. Being able to come in public. We do canoe trips. These trips have been organized specifically for people who have been affected by suicide. So the first reservations are for suicide survivors and attempted survivors.”
DeAsis-Samaniego commented on the recent national 988 issue.
“I love this use of the 988 number. And I think it’s important to have easy access to that. I don’t know if people know that we can text that number as well. It automatically logs you in someone with the area of your phone. If it is an emergency, they will try to get your consent to send someone to your home.
DeAsis-Samaniego said what else is coming for Juneau Suicide Prevention in honor of Suicide Awareness Month.
“Throughout the month we have displays and resources in all three libraries. Zach Gordon, there will be an art activity for our young people. Another great partner is the Juneau School District and we are making suicide signs in high schools and we’re just starting to do it again in colleges. Something like a club, Sources of Strength. Then in college, we have a program that may not start until winter of this year, and that’s why I’m staying.
DeAsis-Samaniego explained other prevention resources they offer in Juneau.
“JSPC is a Namie Juneau program. And they also provide support groups. We do community education. If I have a loved one who is in pain, but I don’t know how to recognize some of these signs, I going to be less able to help that person. So we offer training with the belief that the community cares for the community. We offer training to recognize what these signs are and how to ask the question, do you think about the suicide? How to persuade that individual to get help and know where to refer them. We have a training this week coming Wednesday. You will see that all of our events will still be posted on our Facebook. But it will be live Wednesday evening, I think it starts at five and then Saturday morning.”
She said they also offer postvention care.
“One thing we do is in case of loss by suicide. It’s really a difficult time. And so we call it postvention, which is also prevention, but we call it postvention. We are here to support families and just really guide them to the support that they need. And just to help with triage. Juneau Mental Health, we manage that online. It also gives access to some information.
DeAsis-Samaniego explained how someone can get involved in Juneau’s suicide prevention.
“If you are interested in suicide prevention and the promotion of mental wellness, there is a place for you. And that can be individuals or organizations. Find us online, 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, 3-4:30 p.m. And currently, it’s still online.”