“You are not alone” suicide awareness and prevention


This spring, more than one thousand students from Kenai Central High School, Kenai Middle School, Nikiski Middle-High School, Skyview Middle School, Soldotna Prep, and Soldotna High School attended assemblies about suicide awareness. Student leaders at KCHS received training about suicide awareness. The assemblies aimed to assist our students and staff with helpful tips and facts about mental health and suicide prevention. Deb Casello, You Are Not Alone youth suicide prevention project coordinator through the Alaska Training Cooperative and UAA's Center for Human Development, together with trained students from Anchorage facilitated the assemblies.

Students learned that many people think that openly talking about suicide raises the risk. The fact is that asking someone directly usually lowers their anxiety, opens up lines of communication, and also lowers the risk of an impulsive act. Everyone received yellow wrist bands with a Careline that anyone can call, anytime: 877-266-HELP.

“Since almost all efforts to persuade someone to live instead of attempt suicide will be met with agreement and relief, don’t hesitate to get involved or take the lead.” –You Are Not Alone presentation

Question. Persuade. Refer. QPR is three steps everyone can learn to help prevent suicide. The objectives of youth led QPR trainings are:

  • Teach the appropriate role for youth in suicide prevention; youth are neither counselors nor interventionists
  • Learn about the myths and facts surrounding suicide
  • Empower youth with tools to safely ask the Question
  • Recognize the warning signs of suicide
  • Know how to Persuade by offering safe support and hope
  • Reinforce critical step of involving adults, Refer to help



SAPP Grant

In April, KPBSD was awarded a three year Suicide Awareness, Prevention and Postvention (SAPP) grant from the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development. The SAPP grant will help KPBSD continue to build capacity and extend our efforts to deliver suicide awareness programs in our schools. Through the grant, the district will be able to:

  • Develop peer mentoring, and involve more youth in the gatekeeper training
  • Continue to support what we are already doing by having our own trainers in the district for Fourth R and YMHFA, and now Sources of Strength
  • Collaborate with other community organizations to develop a coordinated Suicide Tool Kit to help make proactive plans if or when a suicide tragedy takes place, or if people need help to prevent a suicide

The three year grant proposal targets high risk populations of students in grades 7-12 at Homer Flex, Marathon School, and Kenai Alternative School. And, in year two and three of the grant, additional KPBSD middle and high schools. The goal is to develop teams of peer leaders, mentored by adult advisors, to change the peer social norms about seeking help, and to encourage students to individually assess and develop strengths in their life. An essential element of the program is to recruit a diverse peer leader network from a variety of social cliques and groups.

“While prevention is our first priority, we know postvention is a critical component of a comprehensive wellness program when faced with the tragedy of suicide in a community,” said Melissa Linton, KPBSD Curriculum and Assessment Coordinator. “Postvention has the ability to ease distress, break the cycle of suicide, and be a preventative measure. While KPBSD’s overall health and wellness curriculum is in place, a high priority need for our district is to further education and supports for suicide prevention. Our goal is to create a network of community mental health providers to collaborate to develop a purposeful and coordinated community support that responds quickly and effectively to provide safe havens in response to suicide.”

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