Suicide among young people is a problem facing many societies today. Whilst friends and family might be aware of a young person’s desires to end their lives, most do not know how to help or prevent the terrible feelings which lead to tragic events. However, one group of people hope poetry and related creative arts will push the message across that suicide is not the answer and help increase understanding of things such as depression, anxiety and family breakdown.
The Alaska Association of Student Governments (AASG) has arranged a media contest to take place in April of this year. During this period, students from across the northern American state are invited “to enter skits, songs, poems, digital stories and posters, among other things, to encourage others to mindfully make healthy choices”. The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium has also joined forces with the AASG and has sponsored the event.
Organisers hope that the media coverage and beautiful creations will spread awareness both to potential victims and also to family, friends and employers that suicide is a big problem and needs to be addressed and understood. Creative practices such as poetry, art and drama are also useful tools in helping traumatised or depressed individuals and thus the connection between this contest and the subject at hand is a particularly apt one.
The results of the contest will be announced in mid-April at the AASG Spring Conference in Cordova and winners will receive $2,000 in prizes and cash. A member of Alaskan Careline Crisis Intervention said that the awareness of suicide and the aim to highlight the problem through poetry, writing, theatre and art has really galvanised children throughout the state and made them think that they can really make a difference.