Here is a sampling of editorial opinions from Alaska newspapers:
March 9, 2013
Ketchikan Daily News: Always hope
Despite all that might go wrong in life, there's still a way to succeed.
That's the final sentence in a press release from the Alaska Wildlife Troopers. The release is about the 1,500-mile Suicide Prevention Crusade of three troopers, beginning March 17.
The troopers, Darrell Hildebrand, Thomas Akelkok and Jon Simeon, will visit five school districts and 19 villages in rural Alaska during two weeks in March, traveling via snow machine.
Other troopers will go along on portions of the trip between Manley Hot Springs and Bethel.
The trip is to follow the Tanana and Yukon rivers as well as the Kuskokwim River. It follows territory covered in the 850-mile trip last year.
Hildebrand, Simeon and Akelkok will share their personal stories of how suicide touched their lives, adopting Applied Intervention Skills Training provided by the Department of Health and Social Services' Suicide Prevention Council.
The troopers' goal is to make sure Alaskans know to reach out to someone and talk about their challenges. There is always hope even in the midst of despair, the troopers have told their audiences for the past four years. Suicide is preventable, and they will hand out Alaska Suicide Prevention CARELINE cards.
The three troopers grew up in rural Alaska, where the suicide rate is epidemic. Alaska's rate is almost twice that of the Lower 48.
But Alaska Native males between 15 and 24 rank highest in the nation, with a suicide rate of 141.6 per 100,000 during the first decade of this century.
These troopers know about what they speak. Their message is valuable to all Alaska, and their contribution to the state is priceless.
Not only do they serve Alaska as troopers, but as Alaskans taking care of Alaskans.
March 10, 2013
Peninsula Clarion: Study: Health needs of old, young should be balanced
As the Kenai Peninsula's senior population continues to grow, so does the area's need for services to keep them healthy and living happy.
While many of us could guess that this increasingly aging population will need more health care and assisted living services, those needs have started showing up in Central Peninsula Hospital's community needs assessment.
Next to cancer care, residents recently surveyed on what health care items they felt were most needed in the area ranked Alzheimer's, cardiology, dialysis and assisted living services highest.
Now that our hospital and area physicians have begun improving and expanding cancer care, the area's health care providers should make sure they are ready to meet demands of the senior population.
Moreover, area health care providers must work to ensure younger residents remain healthy to ease the burden on the system later in their lives. Two statistics from CPH's recent survey stand out in this regard.
The first is that about one-third of the people who live in the area are obese. The study indicates that obesity is directly linked to every chronic disease researchers measured. That is simply shocking. We must do something to encourage residents to eat healthier and exercise more in the interest of improving their overall health.
Moreover, the percentage of residents reporting more need for mental health services has risen steadily in the decade, but is most notably absent from the survey's top needs.
Health care providers should not let this statistic be brushed aside. Mental health is critical to a community's overall health and just under half of area residents report they would like more access to it.
It appears now that the area's health care is at a crossroads — we must make sure care for elderly residents is improved and expanded and that specialties patients need are being provided.
However, we must make sure that the ball isn't dropped on the younger generation and that we work to improve their mental and physical health as preventative steps.