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Commentary by Ariel Tweto: When suicide stops being a surprise

My name is Ariel Tweto. I'm from Unalakleet, a small, isolated village in rural Alaska with a population of roughly 650 people. I've lived there almost my entire life and I can't put a number to the amount of suicide deaths that I have experienced within my village. According to the Alaska Bureau of Vital Statistics, Alaska has the highest rate of suicide per capita in the United States, and that rate is not slowing down.

When I heard about the last three suicides, I did not shed a tear. Even though they were people I loved, for some unexplainable reason, my emotions were numb.

Is it because suicide is so ordinary now and I've become use to it? Is it because I don't have any tears left?

I want to cry again. That may seem like an odd thing to want, but it's not as odd as feeling as if you can't feel anything. I want to cry like you should do when a loved one passes on, but nothing comes out of me other than a few four-letter words.

I often find myself thinking, who is going to be next? Isn't that horrible? I think a lot of us from the village silently think the same thing. But I am going to make a change from here on out. I am going to do something instead of just sitting back and wondering when the next suicide will happen.

-- Ariel Tweto, Unalakleet

Tweto, a star of Discovery Channel's "Flying Wild Alaska," has started a speaking tour at Alaska schools to talk about suicide prevention. Read her full remarks on suicide in Alaska at thearcticsounder.com.

 



Anchorage