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Rural Alaska

Bethel resident wins honor for work in suicide prevention

  • Author: Lisa Demer
  • Updated: June 19, 2017
  • Published June 19, 2017

BETHEL – An advocate from the Western Alaska hub of Bethel has won national recognition for his work in suicide prevention.

Jim Biela won the honor earlier this month from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention for his work as founder and volunteer leader of the group's Alaska chapter. A foundation official, John Madigan, called him "a true Alaskan hero."

Biela was awarded the Sandy Martin Grassroots Award at a reception in Washington, D.C. Biela, who works as a school district social worker, has traveled to villages for suicide prevention and also formed a team to educate the Legislature and governor.

For the last 13 years, he has worked for the Lower Kuskokwim School District, serving the villages of Nightmute, Tununak, Toksook Bay, Mekoryuk, Nunapitchuk and Newtok.

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