Health Report: Fairbanks Native Association opens “Building Bridges” program

Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 4:19 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The Fairbanks Native Association (FNA) has opened its new “Building Bridges” program to the community.

According to Perry Ahsogeak, Director of Behavioral Health for FNA, the program was created to help spread awareness of suicide in the community as well as provide training to individuals looking to help.

“Building Bridges is a suicide prevention program,” Ahsogeak explained. “Basically, it’s to get more word out there regarding suicide in the community, working with agencies, working with the public, letting them know that we need to focus a little bit more on the suicide here in the Fairbanks community. Over the last few months we’ve seen an increase in suicides, and this is just another opportunity to try and address that.”

FNA will be collaborating with various organizations in the community to provide this training to their members.

“We’re looking at training some of our community members, our legislators, our school people, on how to identify suicide,” Ahsogeak elaborated. “This training is specific to looking at questioning the person about what’s going on, why are they considering this, trying to persuade them not to, trying to refer them to those agencies, to whoever can provide them help during this time of need. We have several agencies here in Fairbanks, including the hospital, including law enforcement, including the churches, that have asked us to help them provide training to their staff as well as their members of their organization.”

Along with organizations, individuals can reach out to FNA to inquire on receiving the training according to Ahsogeak.

“This is open to anybody, everybody in the community, not just the Native population, but anybody that needs that kind of help,” Ahsogeak remarked. “We will provide any training to anybody that asks for it.”

Ahsogeak continued, “We know that we’ve had challenging times during the last couple of years because of the pandemic. We know that people have been trying to deal with it, and a lot of times they do not know that there are resources out there that can help them. We need to make sure that they are aware of it, that we are here to help them to make sure that they’re not doing this by themselves. We’re here to help.”

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