Kotzebue holds Walk for Life
Recently, dozens of kids and adults alike took to the streets of Kotzebue to affirm their dedication to preserving life for all people and to show compassion and support for those who may be struggling.
Called the Walk for Life, it's an annual event meant to raise awareness about suicide prevention and talk about reasons for living in the community.
"Our region had the highest suicide rate in the state," said former Mayor Siikauraq Martha Whiting, who started the walk during her term in office. "We had to do something to celebrate life, not just have family gatherings after someone passes away."
The first Walks for Life happened on the same day, at the same time, in towns across the Northwest Arctic and throughout the state.
"While they walked in Ambler, we were walking in Selawik, and in Noatak. We knew that as a region, we are all in it together," she said. "We had the North Slope, Bering Straits, Southeast communities as well as Anchorage and Fairbanks all walking, simply to celebrate life."
Now, it's a yearly event, typically held around suicide awareness day in the late summer.
"It's so awesome that our communities are keeping the tradition alive," Whiting said.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, or if you've lost a loved one to suicide and need someone to talk to, there are people out there who can help:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-TALK or www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline also has helplines in Spanish and those specifically for military veterans through their main number.
The Veteran's Crisis Line can be reached at 1-800-273-8255, pressing option 1. You can also text 838255 for help, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The Alaska CARELINE is available 24 hours a day at 1-877-266-HELP or 907-452-HELP. You can also text 4help to 839863 from 3 p.m.-11 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. More information can be found at carelinealaska.com.
A 24-hour helpline for members of the LGBTQ+ and LGBTQ+ youth community is 1-866-4-U-TREVOR or www.thetrevorproject.org or @TrevorProject.
More information and state-by-state resources can be found at www.suicide.org. You can also find help by calling your local community health center or dialing 911, or by starting a conversation with a friend, family member, or someone you trust.