Advocates to Visit Juneau to Request Passage of Mental Health Budget and to Train Legislators on How to Prevent Suicide

Contact: Alexis O’Brien, PR Director, 347-826-3577, [email protected]

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Favors the Passage of SB 24

 JUNEAU, AK (March 20, 2017) – Alaska has the second highest suicide rate in the United States. To help prevent this tragic loss of life, volunteer advocates from the Alaska chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention are visiting the state capitol on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 22-23 to encourage their legislative leaders to support the Mental Health Budget, SB 24, and to seriously invest in suicide prevention training resources for health professionals and school personnel. Media and legislators are invited to a presentation of Talk Saves Lives™ at Noon, March 23 in room 106 of the State Capitol Building. Free lunch will be provided.

“Suicide prevention is an issue that all Alaskans should take to heart,” said James Biela, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Alaska Chapter member. “Talking openly and directly about suicide will help ease the misinformation that continues about suicide,” he said. “There are excellent evidence-based programs proven to work in the cities and rural villages of Alaska. For this first State Capitol Event with the Alaska Chapter, it is our hope that we will introduce ourselves to the legislators and give a voice to those who have died by suicide.” Mr. Biela is a resident of the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta in Alaska.

Mental Health Budget

This act introduces a request for appropriations, for the July 1, 2017 fiscal year for the operating and capital expenses of the state’s integrated comprehensive mental health program. The State’s Comprehensive Integrated Mental Health Program is prepared by Alaska Department of Health and Social Services in conjunction with the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, statewide advocacy boards and commissions and other stakeholders and provides a framework from which state, local and tribal partners can set priorities to improve the health status for all Alaskans.

Talk Saves Lives™

Talk Saves Lives™ is a community-based presentation that covers the general scope of suicide, the research on prevention, and what people can do to fight suicide. Attendees will learn the risk and warning signs of suicide, and how together, we can help prevent it.

Alaska is also hosting fundraising events throughout the months of April 2017 and May 2017. There will be a walk in Fairbanks on April 29, in Mat-Su Valley on May 6, Anchorage on May 20, and a Gold Nugget Triathlon on May 21. For more information and to register, click here.

This is the first  time AFSP is hosting a State Capitol Day in Alaska. Mr. Biela is part of a national movement of AFSP volunteer advocates who will be visiting 35 state capitols across the United States in spring 2017 to bring best practices in suicide prevention to state legislators.

Suicide in Alaska

Suicide is the fifth leading cause of death overall in Alaska. For people aged 10-24 in Alaska, it is the leading cause of death. For those aged 25-44, it is the second leading cause of death. On average one person dies by suicide every two days in the state. More than three times as many people die by suicide in Alaskans annually than by homicide.


The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. AFSP celebrates 30 years of service to the suicide prevention movement. Learn more about AFSP in its latest Annual Report, and join the conversation on suicide prevention by following AFSP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.


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