Bering Strait Youth Suicide Prevention Project Evaluation

Principal Investigator: Jesse S. Metzger, Ph.D.
This project is funded through Kawerak, Inc. and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services (Grant #U79SM058480).

Alaska has been consistently ranked as having the highest suicide rate in the country. This rate is almost double the national average, with approximately 130 suicides occurring each year in Alaska (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2007).  Of particular concern are Alaska youths, with the suicide rate for Alaskan youth being significantly higher than the national average. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2004, national suicide rates among 15 to 19 year olds were 8.2 per 100,000. In contract, the 2004 – 2006 Alaska Suicide Follow Back Study, documented an average annual suicide rate for this age group of 31.6 per 100,000, over three times the national rate. There is also a large ethnic disparity, with Alaska Natives accounting for 39% of suicides, yet comprising only 16% of the population. To help combat these high suicide rates, Kawerak, Inc. has been awarded funding from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration to engage in suicide prevention efforts in the Bering Strait Region. The goal of this grant is to enhance and expand suicide prevention programs and services to specific regions and youth populations where suicide rates are particularly high. The overall purpose of the Youth Suicide Prevention Program to be implemented by Kawerak, Inc. is to provide peer training and education program that will decrease suicide rate through the promotion of youth health and wellness. Kawerak, Inc. has contracted with CBHRS to provide an evaluation of these suicide prevention efforts.