Cordova Times: Senators introduce suicide prevention legislation

Sixteen senators, including Alaska Republicans Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan have introduced the Native America Suicide Prevention Act, to ensure that Native communities are included in planning and execution of such preventive programs.

The legislation is the Senate companion to H.R. 3473, a bipartisan bill introduced by Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, D-AZ, Rep. Tom Cook, R-OK, and 27 other House cosponsors. Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for Alaska Natives. From 2012 through 2015, the suicide mortality rate of Alaska Natives was 40.9 deaths per 100,000, Murkowski said.

The Yukon-Kuskokwim region of Alaska had a significantly higher rate compared with other areas of Alaska, at 64.1 per 100,000 people for 2012 through 2015, she said. Put in perspective, from 2012 through 2014 the national suicide rate for all races was 13.1 per 100,000 people, she noted in a news release.

The bill has received support from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the Alaska Native Health Board, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Tanana Chiefs Conference, Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health, the Association on American Indian Affairs, the National Council of Urban Indian Health, and the Association or Behavioral Healthcare.

Source: Cordova Times