Juneau, Alaska (KINY) Senator-elect Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks) and Representative Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage) have pre-filed legislation in their respective bodies to extend the State Suicide Prevention Council to June 30, 2027.
A new report found that suicide rates rose by 13 percent in Alaska between 2012 and 2017. Alaska had the highest, or second highest, suicide rate in the nation during that six-year period.
A recent legislative audit found the council operated in the public's interest by actively broadening the public's awareness of suicide prevention and coordinating the effort of other suicide prevention agencies including state agencies, regional groups, coalitions, and local communities.
"We must remember that mental health wellness is a public health issue, just as reducing any other disease or illness,' Kawasaki said, "Studies show that community isolation correlates to suicide and mental illness. It is up to the public to improve outreach and resources available to reduce suicide and self-harm."
Rep. Tarr said she has seen a need for help in many communities from Craig to Barrow, "We must do more in our communities and the Council is a critical link in this work. The Council should be extended and supported."