Suicide Prevention Awareness Month Activities – Tell Your Heart Story

ANTHC recognizes that suicide affects everyone and it can be challenging to talk about, so we welcome you to support our journey by starting a conversation – Tell Your Heart Story. Everyone at some time in life will face adversities, setbacks and losses. During these hardships, it is important to have healthy coping skills and the ability to move forward and bounce back.

Please join us through the month of September to honor Suicide Prevention Awareness Month with weekly activities aimed to promote connectedness, how to reach out for help and normalize conversations about mental health to help us build our resiliency during difficult times.

Please carefully read through the activity and then fill out the survey. Each week, there will be a random drawing among survey completions for a prize. At the end of the month, participants who complete all four of the weekly activities will be entered into the grand prize drawing: Go Pro with accessories.

Disclaimer: For participant safety, we ask that all participants be 15 or older.

If you need immediate help or someone you know is in crisis or having thoughts of suicide, please talk to some you trust, call 911 or call the Alaska Careline at 1-877-266-4357. The Careline is Alaska’s suicide prevention and someone to talk to line that is here for you 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and calls are free and completely confidential https://carelinealaska.com.


Week 3 – Sept. 20-26: Mind-body connection

Prize: Polaroid camera

What we will learn:

  • Creating a healthy body and mind
  • Stress and how to restart and refresh your day

Activity: Healthy Bodies Healthy Minds BINGO.

Download the BINGO card here.

Find one word to describe how you feel before doing the activity.

Rules: When you complete an activity in the box, cross it off. Complete five activities in a row horizontally, vertically or diagonally to earn a bingo.

Find one word to describe how you feel after doing the activity. Is it different from the word you used before?

Take the survey and be entered to win:

Create your own user feedback survey

Physical Health

“Our ancestors were strong in body, mind, and spirit and created who we are today. Physical and spiritual strength comes from our connection to the land where our ancestors settled and raised families. Through keeping our bodies strong and healthy, we help foster a healthy mind, spirit, and community.”

~ Yup’ik Elder

Here are a few ways of taking care of your physical and spiritual health:

  • Learn a traditional game, sport, or dance.
  • Eat a healthy traditional diet of fish, sea greens and berries.
  • Sleep for 8-9 hours each night.

Stress Management

We all experience stress, and too much can be harmful to overall health.

When you feel stressed, try practicing this simple exercise, 5-4-3-2-1:

  • Look around and notice 5 things you can see right now.
  • Touch 4 things you can physically feel, like your feet on the floor, clothes on skin, temperature, etc.
  • Note 3 things you can hear.
  • Find 2 things you can smell.
  • Identify 1 thing you can taste.

Reflection: Physical activity can make a huge difference, both physically and mentally. Next time you are feeling stressed, try using one of the activities to restart and refresh your day.


Week 4 – Sept. 27-30: Knowledge for you and others

Prize: Bluetooth speaker

What we will learn:

  • Mental health and warning signs of suicide
  • Where to find resources

Activity: Learn a suicide prevention skill and tell one other person about what you learned.

Culture and language play a big role in how we talk about mental health and suicide. Being direct and asking about suicide can be difficult, but it is important to have a conversation about what you see, hear and feel.

Remember to take all signs seriously. The more signs you observe, the greater the risk.

Warning signs

  • Saying things like “all of my problems will be over soon” or “I don’t want to be here anymore”
  • Previous attempts to taking own life
  • Depression, moodiness, hopelessness, changes in behavior
  • Loss of a job, major relationship, or loved one
  • Giving away possessions
  • Posts on social media that are concerning
  • Decreased motivation and interest in appearance
  • Increase in risky behavior
  • Misuse of drugs or alcohol
  • Withdrawal from others

How to talk about suicide

  • Talk to the person alone in a private setting
  • It is okay to feel uncomfortable
  • Allow yourself plenty of time and allow the person to talk freely
  • Listen to the problem, give your full attention, do not rush to judgement, and offer hope in any form
  • Ask them directly if they are having thoughts of suicide
  • Let the person know that you want them to live, that you are on their side, and that they are not alone
  • Ask if the person is willing to go get help with you
  • Follow-up with the person. This lets the person know you care what happens to them.

Resources

CARELINE- 1-877-266-4357 available 24 hours a day or text 4help to 839863 from 3-11 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday

National Suicide Lifeline- 1-800-273-8255, available 24 hours a day

Crisis Text Line- text HELLO to 741741, available 24 hours a day

To learn more about suicide prevention trainings, visit https://anthc.org/what-we-do/behavioral-health/suicide-prevention/

What was your reaction to this information? How does knowing this information help you, a friend, family, or community member?

Reflection: Get involved when there are warning signs that a person may be at risk of taking their own life. Talking about suicide directly can be difficult and uncomfortable, but this also lets them know you care about them.


Week 1 – Sept. 6-12: Strength in sharing stories

What we will learn: 

  • Sharing our story gives us strength
  • Communication helps build connection

Activity: Create a storyboard.

You can create a storyboard: On paper with words drawings, pictures, collages or with a digital storyboard https://www.storyboardthat.com/

Storytelling is a shared human experience. Alaska Native people have been telling and passing down stories that contain our heritage, where we come from and language. Stories help connect us to our Elders, both past and present, family, friends, community, nature and ourselves. Through storytelling, we can inspire learning, healing others and ourselves and build community.

Stories hold power, especially the ones we tell ourselves. Storytelling helps make sense of our experiences and emotions, and helps us grow. Your story matters!

A storyboard uses photos, graphics, images, and words that provides us to see our story visually.

Here are some self-reflective questions to help you tell your story:

  • What challenges have I faced?
  • How did I overcome those challenges?
  • Did anyone else help you overcome these challenges?
  • If yes, then who and how?
  • What could I have done better/ differently?
  • What did I learn from this experience? About yourself/others/the world?

We encourage you to share your story with one other person.

Reflection: Sharing our experiences may give guidance to others going through a similar challenge. You are not alone, and your story matters!


Week 2 – Sept. 13-19: Resilience in culture

Prize: Yeti boat tote

What we will learn:

  • Cultural connectedness enhances mental health
  • Learning and speaking our native language creates a sense of identity and belonging

Activity: Learn five new words and their meanings in your (or another) Native language.

Cultural connectedness creates a strong identity that can help overcome hardships, and start the healing journey. Speaking our Native language connects us to family, friends, community and nature.

Language provides knowledge, insights, values, practices, and ways of life, as well as a sense of belonging. This is important to our health and wellness.

Reflection: Language connects us to the land, our people, who we are, our community, and extends our knowledge to future generations.