Elise Patkotak: A young Alaska Native male face of suicide
"Death in Bush Alaska overwhelmingly has a young face to it. And even more overwhelmingly, suicide in the Bush has a young Native male face to it.

Going to the funerals of Elders who lived long and productive lives is sad but part of life's ongoing rhythm. Going to the funerals of people cut down by diseases over which they had minimal control is sad but a sadness often relieved by the knowledge that they are no longer suffering.

But going to the funerals of young men who choose to end their lives for reasons most of us can never comprehend goes beyond sad. It begs the question of what is missing in their lives. What are we as a society not seeing that is so dramatically and negatively affecting them?

It's almost too easy to point the finger at drugs and alcohol. That they play a role in many suicides is not a big secret. But it isn't only young men in the Bush who abuse these substances. So do women, girls, middle-aged men and women, grandmoms and grandpops. The reach of substance abuse is long and leaves no age group unaffected.

Which brings us back to the question as to why young men in particular are prone to suicide when drinking while others pass out and live to drink another day?"

Get the Story:
Elise Patkotak: Having a purpose helps keep us alive (The Anchorage Daily News 5/16)

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