Alaska Department of Health and Social Services

Alaska Youth Suicide Prevention Project
Garrett Lee Smith State

Alaska is consistently among the states with the highest suicide rate in the nation. The Division of Behavioral Health (DBH) approach to the Alaska Youth Suicide Prevention Project is to build on the work and success accomplished through our existing Garrett Lee Smith program as well as our Prevention and Early Intervention Services community grant programs; to integrate the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, planning and evaluation process at both the state and community level; and to establish a strong partnership between the state and Alaska communities dealing with the ravages of alcohol and drug use, abuse and dependency, which have been shown to have strong linkages to suicide in Alaska.

  1. The Divisions main proposal strategy is to implement suicide prevention trainings statewide. Previous training efforts have not had the level of output and effectiveness as identified in program evaluation findings of the Alaska Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training. Therefore, renewed efforts to expand and enhance suicide prevention trainings will be able to demonstrate and meet the goals of the project: Alaskans will have an increase in knowledge that youth suicide is preventable;
  2. Alaskan communities will have an increase of healthy social & emotional skills in their youth;
  3. Alaskan communities will have increased access & availability to effective behavioral health services targeting youth with high risk for suicide;
  4. Alaska will continue and increase suicide prevention & early intervention research and evaluation methods for prevention of youth suicide.

The training models that will be implemented include, 1) The Alaska Gatekeeper Suicide Prevention Training, 2) ASIST, 3) At-Risk for High School Educators 4) Other trainings based on need including Mental Health First Aid, and Critical Incident Stress Management. In order to accomplish these goals and training strategies, the Division proposes to provide leadership, technical assistance and support, and ongoing monitoring to ensure that participating communities are successful in developing locally designed and culturally appropriate suicide prevention strategies and incorporating the goals of the Alaska Suicide Prevention Plan.

Critical to the success of the Alaska Youth Suicide Prevention Project is the commitment to developing a quality data-driven and outcome-focused system to promote accountable, effective and results oriented evaluation at the state, community and program level. Through collaboration with key partners including the University of Alaska Anchorage, the Alaska Statewide Suicide Prevention Council, and other critical partnerships will be enhanced (where they have existed) and developed (where they have not existed). Through these partnerships Alaska will continue to improve and strengthen its prevention capacity and statewide infrastructure towards the reduction in suicide in the years ahead.