While I was growing up in a small village of about 250 people, I was abused by my father, my friends, and my older brother....My friends didn't want to hear what I went through. I didn't have anyone to talk to. I didn't trust anyone, even myself. I know what kids in Alaska are going through..
In a special commentary which was recently published in the Journal of Rural Mental Health, Senator Mark Begich shared the story of "Anna", a young girl from rural Alaska who had written about how she struggled with suicide and depression. A former mayor of Anchorage, Senator Begich is currently waging a tough reelection campaign as well as championing the Mental Health First Aid Act to expand mental health training across the country.
The need for this legislation is especially apparent in rural Alaska. According to the most recent statistics, suicide rates outside Alaska's main cities are four times the national average and among the highest in the world. In 2010 alone, the number of suicide in Alaska's Kuskokwim prompted state and local officials to mount an emergency response. Despite their efforts however, suicide rates in rural Alaska are still high. Though nationwide suicide rates tends to highest in people over eighty, it is the 20-29 year age group that seems most prone to suicide in Alaska.
To read more, check out my new contribution to The Huffington Post.