In her teens and 20s, Christine Moses of Bethel tried to kill herself, she says.
Now 36, and appointed by Gov. Sean Parnell this week to represent rural towns and villages on the Statewide Suicide Prevention Council, Moses believes she survived for a reason.
"I feel that my experiences growing up are a blessing in disguise because through my experiences, I can help others that are going through similar things and say, 'Yes, I do know how you feel, and I do know that there is hope,' " Moses said.
A ticket-counter supervisor for Grant Aviation in Bethel, Moses is the latest appointment to the suicide council, a panel created in 2001 to reduce the alarming number of Alaskans who kill themselves each year. Her seat, most recently held by a Toksook Bay man who lost his son to suicide, represents remote communities off the road system, where suicide rates are the highest in the state.
Moses talked about the appointment in a short phone interview while sewing an otter fur hat. She grew up in the village of Eek, near the mouth of the Kuskokwim River, she said, and lived as a teenager in nearby Bethel.
More than 8 percent of deaths in the region were attributed to suicide between 2000 and 2008, according to suicide prevention council's 2010 annual report. That's more than twice the Anchorage rate.
Moses, who is Yup'ik, said she was recruited to the council after meeting Parnell's rural adviser. Along with suicide prevention, she wants to target sexual abuse and domestic violence in Alaska, she said.
"I want people to be aware that those two can go hand-in-hand," said Moses, who says she was a victim of sexual assault while growing up. "If you've experienced some kind of assault, that there is the potential for you to become suicidal. But I thank God that through faith and counseling from my grandparents that I overcame that."
"I do believe that elders can help younger kids to realize that there is value in life," Moses said.
A mother of four, she is working toward University of Alaska degrees in nursing and human services, according to the governor's office. A seat on the suicide prevention council representing Alaska young people remained vacant as of Tuesday, with an applicant under review, according to the director of boards and commissions.
By KYLE HOPKINS