Suicide PSA Features Local Mushers

by Charles Enoch on January 30, 2015

Screenshot of Bethel musher Pete Kaiser scanning the terrain. Photo by Ben Matheson

Screenshot of Bethel musher Pete Kaiser scanning the terrain before his run. Screenshot taken from the video

A Bethel, Alaska suicide prevention organization, recently released a public service announcement featuring local Alaska Native mushing celebrities. The message puts a local spin on the issue in an area with some of the country’s highest suicide rates.
English version

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Yup’igcetun

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The video opens with a shot of local Kuskokwim 300 champion Pete Kaiser getting ready for a day of mushing with his sled dog team, and one question.

“What if one morning the unthinkable happened? What if my team began to disappear one by one?” said Kaiser.

Later in the video, Kaiser meets up with Akiak musher Mike Williams Jr. and both ride off with their teams while Kaiser tells the listener to seek help if they need it.

Alaska has the highest per capita suicide rate in the nation and the YK Delta has nearly five times the national average, according to a state study.

Several Bethel residents collaborated in creating the video.

The year-long project was funded by Donlin Gold, the Drew’s Foundation, and the Suicide Awareness Intervention Prevention and Healing Coalition. Drew’s foundation was started in 2011 by Bethel resident Paul O’Brien after his son Drew O’Brien took his own life.

Anyone needing help can call the Alaska Careline at 1-800-266-4357.

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