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After his daughter's suicide attempt, Emmonak elder demands state's attention

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Editor's note: Nick Tucker is a 64-year-old resident of Emmonak, a village of about 800 on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. He made headlines last year when he communicated fellow villagers' fears and concerns about their financial straits in a letter he sent to politicians and journalists. On July 24, Tucker's 16-year-old daughter attempted suicide. Below is a letter Tucker sent to Gov. Sean Parnell's rural affairs advisor, John Moller, demanding action to combat western Alaska's high rate of suicide. The letter was first printed in The Tundra Drums.

July 24, 2010

Mr. John Moller

Rural Affairs

Office of the Governor

State of Alaska

John:

As I write to you, I have with me a suicide note from my 16-year old daughter. My wife woke me up suddenly around 5 am this morning and said our daughter had hung herself. We all rushed into her room -- she wasn't breathing. We lifted her up and cut off the wire cord of a hairdryer. We loosened the cord around her neck as fast we possibly could. Her brothers held her, with head back, and kept talking to her. We caught her just in time -- few seconds more, we would have lost her.

In our 200+ villages, there are people letting minors drink and encouraging drugs. John and Honorable Governor Parnell, we've talked enough about prevention and this is no time for me to casually approach your troopers. In the villages, they take forever.

And, this is not the time for me to beg. Get your judges, troopers and investigators -- starting here in Emmonak and do professional investigation. I wouldn't accept that you do not have the money and resources. Get them -- borrow 200 troopers from other states. We have an epidemic, a Hurricane Katrina and a Gulf oil spill but in a magnitude much more devastating because it is humanitarian. Find out who is giving minors alcohol and drugs. Let's not worry about politics -- we honor you at this time in life that you were appointed by God to be our governor and we have a situation in all our villages. Start with Emmonak. Not only do the investigation, but get the legislators together on an emergency session and get penalties and sentences taken care of. Don't allow your legislators play politics. We in Emmonak and the other 200+ villages are one, unique, precious part of this state. Now, I am calling upon you.

In the meantime, detain the drug dealers and those who found giving minors alcohol. We are left with no choice. Deal with their court dates later. Deal with them. They don't care about our children and grandchildren. My wife and I have 12 children, over 20 grandchildren, and we certainly know what we are talking about -- nine of them are adults, but we lost our second oldest daughter back in May of 2007.

I don't want to hear you'll do your best -- I've heard that for 65 years. Your best is now, needed now, not a second later.

Thank you for being bold and everyone else and to include our legislators.

Nick Tucker, Sr.

Emmonak

Cc: file

As sent to anyone who will help get the job done

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