Three Alaska Wildlife Troopers began a 1,500-mile journey across rural Alaska on a crusade to prevent suicide on Sunday, March 17.
Troopers Darrell Hildebrand, Thomas Akelkok, and Jon Simeon plan to reach adults and children in five different school districts and 19 rural Alaskan villages during their crusade. The goal is suicide prevention and to raise public awareness of reaching out and talking to someone during difficult times, whether it's a friend, a parent, a teacher, or the troopers.
All three troopers grew up in rural Alaska -- Hildebrand in Nulato, Akelkok in Ekwok, and Simeon in Aniak -- and first braved snow-machining in sub-zero temperatures last year during their successful 850-mile trip to Interior Alaska.
According to AWT public information officer Beth Ipsen, the suicide rate in rural Alaska is an epidemic.
"The rate in Alaska is almost twice that of the rest of the nation, but Alaska Native males between the ages of 15-24 have the highest rate with an average of 141.6 suicides per 100,000 (200-2009) (sic)," said Ipsen in a press release.
The trio of troopers will hand out personalized Alaska Suicide Prevention CARELINE cards during their crusade against suicide.
Contact Jessica Ridgway