Life during this pandemic has weighed heavily on our individual and collective mental health. For youth, things like isolation, anxiety, and grief have added to an already increasing list of risk factors. And Alaska has long since had some of the highest adolescent suicide rates in the country. 

So for this episode we’re going to talk about suicide prevention. Our guest is Leah Van Kirk, the suicide prevention program coordinator for the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. 

ATMI producer Madison Knutson spoke with Van Kirk about her work, how the pandemic has affected youth mental health and preventative resources, as well as best practices for providing support for people who are struggling with suicidal ideation.

They spoke on May 16th, 2022.

Hosted by Zinn Rogers.

Music by Devin Shreckengost, Kendrick Whiteman, and Tyler Felson.


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Alaska Teen Media Institute is based in Anchorage, Alaska. We would like to acknowledge the Dena’ina people, whose land we work on.

Many thanks to supporters of our podcast, including United Way of Anchorage for the Healthy Communities Funding Program and the CDC Foundation Arts and Vaccine Confidence Project.

The opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this podcast are those of our guests and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United Way of Anchorage or the Municipality of Anchorage, Anchorage Health Department.


Careline: Alaska Suicide Prevention and someone to talk to line: 1-877-266-4357

Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224 or text LOVEIS to 22522

Healthy You in 2022: Mental Health and Wellbeing

What to do if someone I know is having thoughts of suicide    

5 Common Myths About Suicide Debunked  

Statewide Suicide Prevention Council (SSPC): Resources and Training

Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium: Suicide Prevention

Center for Disease Control and Prevention

What foster kids need to know during Covid-19

Call 2-1-1 or Help Me Grow Alaska 1-833-464-2527 for help connecting to resources and services or for help knowing where to start.

These resources provided in collaboration with the State of Alaska, Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Behavioral Health. Additional resources provided by Leah Van Kirk.