In 2008 a Juneau School District Psychologist, Brendan Kiernan, applied for a grant from the State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Behavioral Health to fund implementation of a suicide prevention curriculum known as “Signs of Suicide” or SOS at all district high schools. Recognizing the need to ensure a continuity of services to students identified as at risk, as well as the importance of community-wide communication to address the problem of suicide in a comprehensive way, Brendan formed a community-level advisory group consisting of representatives from local agencies and concerned Juneau residents. This group became known as The Juneau Community Suicide Prevention Task Force.
Over the next three years, the Task Force successfully implemented the SOS curriculum in all Juneau high schools, began presenting a version of the curriculum to middle school students, developed suicide prevention brochures targeting specific at-risk groups, organized Suicide Gatekeeper and other trainings for agency support staff, developed www.juneausuicideprevention.org and www.juneaumentalhealth.org as online repositories of local resources, and developed a community-base suicide intervention curriculum known as Understanding Suicide: Building Intervention Skills.
In the Summer of 2011, Juneau Youth Services assumed responsibility for managing our state grant. We were able to add two behavioral health specialists to work within the middle schools and high schools to identify and assist high-risk students and provide training to school personnel. We also expanded our efforts to address “postvention” which includes supporting families and community members who are impacted by a completed suicide, and helping to mitigate the risk of further suicides. In addition, a community-based services coordinator was hired to coordinate community public awareness, training and postvention activities. In March of 2012, the Juneau Community Suicide Prevention Task Force voted to change its name to the Juneau Suicide
Prevention Coalition in order to reflect the group’s broad-based and ongoing to its mission.
In 2015, we completed a community needs assessment revealing that trauma, specifically Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs,) contribute to the majority of suicides. Formerly, we were solely focused on mental health and suicide. We then helped form Raising Our Children With Kindness (ROCK Juneau), a cross sector collaborative aiming to reduce ACEs and increase equity for all kids.
Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition became a program of NAMI Juneau in 2020 due to the compatible nature of their goals and programs. Since 2020, JSPC has increased work in means reduction, started a mental health storytelling project, engaged in anti-racism work, and hosted a variety of outreach events with community partners.
To increase understanding of the nature of suicide and suicidal behavior.
To increase recognition of the relationship between suicide to depression and other illnesses, and to alcohol, drugs, and other substances.
To increase knowledge of the risk factors and warning signs of suicide and provide support to high-risk groups in the Juneau community.
To increase the development and implementation of suicide prevention efforts in the Juneau community.
To increase the capability to identify and help support suicidal individuals in the Juneau community.
To increase the availability and use of crisis intervention and mental health resources by suicidal individuals and their loved ones.
The Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition is an active coalition of mental health/social service providers, educators, survivors, members of the religious community and law enforcement, veteran’s advocates, concerned citizens, community groups, and others working to maintain community-wide suicide awareness and prevention in Juneau. JSPC has been a member of NAMI Juneau since July 2020. Below we have listed our members/partners of the Coalition:
Planned Parenthood, JAMHI, Juneau School District, UAS Counseling Services, North Star Behavioral Services, Juneau Youth Services, United States Coast Guard, SEARHC, Department of Health and Social Services, NAMI, Alaska Division of Public Health, Discovery Southeast, Teen Health Center, Catholic Community Services, AWARE, CCTHITA, City & Borough of Juneau, Zach Gordon Youth Center, Find Your Fire, Sitka Wellness Coalition, and Ketchikan Wellness Coalition.
The Juneau Suicide Prevention Coalition is open to anyone in our community who is interested in preventing suicide. We meet on a monthly basis to talk about projects, partnerships and how we can help our community partners.
To find updated information about our meeting schedule, please follow us on social media or click here to sign up for our newsletter.
WHO FUNDS US
JSPC is thankful to receive funding from the following sources:
State of Alaska Department of Behavioral Health
Juneau Community Foundation
Alaska Mental Health Trust
Alaska Association of School Boards
GCI & the Alaska Community Foundation