Suicide

"Anĝaĝiisix̂ matanaan imin lx̂amnakux̂. Anaĝix̂ ukunachin imchin ugutaasaamchim aĝnax̂txichin. (Qagadaan Tunuu) / Anĝaĝiisiin sigax̂ imis akux̂ mal sigaan inixsiisada. (Niiĝuĝim Tunuu)"

"Life is gifted to you. What you make of it is your gift in return." - Values of the Unangan/Unangax̂

!!! If this is an immediate emergency please call 911!!! 

If you are having thoughts of suicide and need someone to talk to, call the Alaska Suicide Prevention/Someone to Talk to Line at 1-877-266-4357 or text '4help' to 839863

Suicide and depression are devastating issues in our state and among our youth. Every 15 minutes a person dies as a result of suicide, but it does not have to have happen. Most people who commit the act want to live, but they don't see any alternatives to their problems.Many times suicide comes as a surprise and loved ones may be helpless to take action as they do not know how to respond or recognize the warning signs.

Suicide is a serious cry for help, and it can be prevented, but you need to recognize it in order to provide help. If you know someone who is at risk of suicide, get the facts and take action. See a mental health specialist or call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, at (800) 273-8255. They provide help for those at-risk for suicide and those needing assistance in helping a friend or family member who is at-risk for suicide. At the bottom of this page there are more resources.

Suicide is the leading cause of death for Alaska Natives age 15-24. 

The Stats

  • Alaska has the highest rate of suicide per capita in the country.
  • The rate of suicide in the United States was 11.5 suicides per 100,000 people 
in 2007. In 2007, Alaska’s rate was 21.8 suicides per 100,000 people. The rate of suicide among Alaska Native peoples was 35.1 per 100,000 people in 2007.
  • Alaska had 1,369 suicides between 2000 and 2009, an average of 136 deaths by suicide per year. The highest number of suicides, 167, occurred in 2008. The lowest number, 123, occurred in 2003. That is an average of about 2.6 suicides in Alaska every week, or more than 10 a month.
  • At least one suicide occurred in 176 Alaskan communities between 2000 and 2009.
  • About 78% of suicides in Alaska are committed by men and 22% are committed by women, according to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.
  • Alaska Native men between the ages of 15-24 have the highest rate of suicide among any demographic in the country, with an average of 141.6 suicides per 100,000 each year between 2000 and 2009.
  • Youth who are exposed to suicide or suicidal behaviors are more at-risk for attempting suicide, according to the American Association of Suicidology.
  • Suicide deaths consistently outnumber homicide deaths by a margin of three to two, according to the American Association of Suicidology.
  • More than 90% of people who die by suicide have depression or another diagnosable, treatable mental or substance abuse disorder, according to American Association of Suicidology.

Statistics from: The State of Alaska Suicide Prevention Council

Risk Factors

  • History of suicide: either with previous attempts or friend and families who have attempted or completed suicide.
  • Exposure to sexual or physical violence, either personal or through the media.
  • History of depression or mental disorders.
  • Substance abuse
  • Physical or chronic illness
  • Questioning sexual orientation or gender identity. Also lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth have a significantly increased risk of suicide due to the pressure and discrimination they experience in their everyday lives.
  • Stress resulting from economic difficulties.

Acute Warning Signs

  • Threats to harm oneself or talk of doing so to oneself.
  • Searching for the means of killing oneself with firearms or medications, for example.
  • Asking persistent questions about suicide, death and dying.
  • Giving away valued personal possessions. 

Other Warning Signs

  • Feelings of hopelessness and that there is no way out, having no purpose and no will to live.
  • Anger or rage that appears to be uncontrolled, or vengeance-seeking. 
  • Withdrawal; feeling lonely and troubled.
  • Engaging in reckless and dangerous behavior, such as going snowmachining under the influence or driving at high speeds, with no thought of consequences.
  • Mood changes, anxiety, agitation with little sleep or too much sleep.
  • Depression

Who is at Risk?

  • Alaska Natives and American Indians in the 15-34 age group
  • Latina high school students
  • Latino and Black male students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds
  • Individuals who suffer from economic stress, have lost homes, or lost jobs.
  • People over the age of 65 and who are physically ill.
  • Military personnel with battlefield stress.

Levels of Suicide Risk

  • Low: person experiences some suicidal thoughts, but has no plan in place.
  • Moderate: person has suicidal thoughts and some semblance of a suicidal plan. No mention is made of committing suicide.
  • High: person has suicidal thoughts, a lethal plan in place, and has indicated that they will commit suicide.

Between 2000 and 2009, 176 Alaskan communities were directly impacted by suicide. 

How to Help Your Community, Yourself, and Others

There are ways that we as a community can prevent suicide, though:

  • Encourage strong connections to friends and family
  • Create a community support system
  • Promote effective care for mental, physical, and substance use disorders
  • Promote access to behavioral health specialists
  • Emphasize developing skills in problem solving, conflict resolution, and non-violent arguing
  • Emphasize cultural and religious beliefs that support self-preservation
  • Reduce the stigmas around mental health and mental illness

If you feel that you are at risk for suicide, or you have attempted suicide in the past, try these strategies to prevent you from completing suicide:

!!! If this is an immediate emergency or you or someone you know are trying to commit suicide please call 911 !!!

If you are considering suicide and need someone to talk to, call the Alaska Suicide Prevention/Someone to Talk to Line  at 1-877-266-4357 or text '4help' to 839863

  • Reach out for help.
  • Immediately reach out to a trusted person in your life that can support you in helping you
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs which can increase feelings and thoughts of suicide that wouldn't happen if sober.
  • Make your home safe, such as creating a space for you that is filled with things that give you joy.
  • Learn positive and constructive ways to control stress.
  • Seek treatment.
  • Visualize a calm and safe space
  • Take 3 deep breaths and count to 10 to gather your thoughts
  • Engage in your favorite activities
  • Exercise
  • Remind yourself how you got through tough times before
  • Create a list of people who love and support you, people you can call on in times of need
  • Create a list of things you have to look forward to
  • Focus on small goals
  • Create a survival kit of objects and memories that bring you comfort or make you smile that you can take out in your darkest moments

How to help someone who is at risk of suicide:

  • Do not try to help alone.
  • Do not leave a suicidal person alone.
  • Restrict access to lethal means, such as guns, poisons, weapons, medications, and other tools that could aid in suicide.
  • Do not judge or give advice. Do not ask "why?"
  • Take action and get help.
  • Get involved. Show an interest and support to a suicidal person. Be empathetic and listen.

The best thing to say when talking with someone who has attempted suicide or is thinking about suicide is simply, "I love you. I'm here to listen." Then assist or refer them to others who can also help them in not taking their life.


For help and resources for prevention, intervention, and survivors, please visit Other Resources