Mayor makes proclamation supporting suicide prevention
Skagway Mayor Monica Carlson, supported by the Borough Assembly, made a proclamation in support of suicide prevention at the April 5 assembly meeting.
“Since moving to Skagway in 1988 I know of no less than four suicides,” Carlson said at the meeting. “And Skagway is not immune.”
Carlson continued by mentioning an upcoming April 21-22 training workshop being led by Dahl Memorial Clinic Behavioral Health Clinician John Hischer.
Hischer spoke during public comments at the meeting, thanking the assembly and mayor for their support of suicide prevention resources in town.
“Looking over the proclamation, where you cite the risk factors that many folks have here in Skagway for suicide, I just want you to know that my experience is there are a lot of folks who experience those risk factors,” Hischer said. “Substance abuse, feelings of hopelessness, isolation, housing insecurity, financial insecurity, all those things can play a big role into folks’ suicidal thoughts.
“But one of the saving graces for a lot of folks here is there are a lot of people in town who notice signs and symptoms, and they go and directly approach those folks and offer help.”
The April 21-22 workshop will include training on how to look for signs of depression and anxiety, psychosis or substance abuse, Hischer said, as well as what to say to a person suffering from any of those. Participants will also learn how to ask someone if they are thinking of hurting themselves.
“That’s a really hard thing to ask folks, but that’s something that we look at during that training,” Hischer said.
The proclamation states the municipality will “actively support suicide prevention” in the community, and will strive to support those who may be struggling with thoughts of suicide. It also notes Alaska’s high suicide rate compared to the rest of the country, and the heavy impact a suicide has on loved ones.
Below are local, state-wide and national suicide prevention resources that are available:
Dahl Memorial Clinic – During business hours: (907) 983-2255, after hours: (907) 983-2025
Skagway Police Department – Dispatch: (907) 983-2232, emergency: 911
Alaska Careline – Phone: (877) 266-HELP, or text 4help to 839863
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Phone: (800) 273-8255
Lifeline Chat at suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/
Kito decides to not seek re-election
Rep. Sam Kito III, Skagway’s representative in Alaska’s House of Representatives District 33, has announced he will not seek re-election for his seat in the fall.
“This was a difficult decision but it was a decision that was mostly made for me in the form of a recommendation by the Alaska State Officers Compensation Commission (ASOCC),” Kito said in a press release. “That decision eliminates per diem payments to legislators that reside within 50 miles of the meeting place of the Legislature, which basically means that the three legislators currently residing in Juneau will receive reduced compensation during the regular 90-day session, extended 120-day session and any special sessions taking place in Juneau.”
After reviewing the situation, Kito said he was not able to come up with a solution that would allow him to continue to serve. He said he was “disappointed and disheartened,” that he has enjoyed serving the residents of the district, but that he has to “accept the realization that our legislative system is heavily weighted in favor of those Alaskans who are either retired, have a working spouse or have independent sources of income.”
“We have created a full-time legislature that will not allow for an average resident of northern southeast Alaska to serve in the legislature without significant sacrifice,” Kito said.
Inaugural school art contest announced
Skagway’s school recently announced an art contest, from which 10 winners will be selected to have their artwork displayed around the school library for the 2018-2019 academic year.
The theme is Skagway – A World within a World.
“Skagwegians have their own culture, celebrate a rich history, and live in a unique way, which makes our tiny town feel like a world of its own sometimes,” reads the description in the contest’s rules. “In what ways do you connect with our town’s culture and history? What passions do you have that are Skagway based? What is here in Skagway that makes this place your world? What makes Skagway special to you? These are only a few questions to think about as you interpret the theme and create your artwork. With your submission, please include a short narrative or poem detailing what your artwork means to you and how it is connected to this years theme.”
Any student K-12th-grade can enter one piece of artwork per category, with the two categories being 2-D and 3-D artwork.
Submission deadline for the event is May 2, at 3:40 p.m. Artwork should be brought to the school’s multi-purpose room. The school will also be hosting an inaugural Gallery Walk to coincide with the newly-unveiled contest, held on May 2nd before the Spring Concert from 5-6 p.m., with the concert to follow at 6 p.m. Winners of the art contest will be announced following the Spring Concert.
Artwork should be no larger than 2×2 feet, and only one student can work on a single entry.
Second year of NPS; Taiya River eulachon study to begin
The Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, in partnership with Skagway’s Traditional Council and the Taiya Inlet Watershed Council, will begin its second year of a project to study eulachon fish in the Taiya River.
Eulachon, or hooligan, have been important to area residents for generations, according to a press release from the National Parks Service (NPS). Oil rendered from the eulachon has long been used as an important medicine, food and trade item.
Eulachon are a small, silver-colored fish that spawn in mid-April, often causing a feeding frenzy by marine predators such as sea lions and harbor seals, as well as gulls, eagles and other birds. This is the second year of the study to formally gather information to assess the status of this critical element of the food chain in the Taiya River.