Kenaitze Tribe offering suicide prevention training

Sep 21, 2021

The Dena'ina Wellness Center in Old Town Kenai.
Credit Sabine Poux/KDLL

September is National Suicide Prevention Month.

The Kenaitze Indian Tribe is holding workshops for people who want to be able to recognize signs and intervene when someone is struggling with suicidal thoughts.

“It’s a community issue, and it’s going to be a community solution to do prevention," said Ken Hoyt, who's coordinating the effort as part of the larger Dena’ina Yinihugheltani project. "And so we’re trying to get the baseline levels of training up for the whole community."

Hoyt became certified to offer training right as COVID-19 was hitting the U.S., along with Kenaitze Case Manager Karina Lorenzo.

"I’m a Tlingit tribal member, she’s a Kenaitze tribal member," Hoyt said. "And so we’re unique in that we’re one of the all-native training teams for that specific training.”

They haven’t been able to do any in-person training yet, because of the pandemic.

Now, they’re offering several different classes, including a two-day in-person group course that will teach participants what to do when someone they know is having suicidal thoughts.

“A core concept within that training is that we shouldn’t be dependent upon those who are professionally the interveners, those we normally think of as the people who would intervene," Hoyt said.

Hoyt and Lorenzo are also connecting people to virtual trainings they can do on their own time, like a one-hour class on the warning signs of suicide.

The goal of that baseline training, Hoyt said, is to build confidence in the general public so they know when to ask for help.

"We as citizens leave a lot on the system," he said. "And the system is pretty well taxed. So if we can step into that gap, we can get some of these numbers under control.”

Training is open to anyone, including non-tribal members. There are several different class options available, both of the in-person and virtual varieties.

To learn more or book a group class, email Hoyt at khoyt@kenaitze.org or call 335-7322.

Hoyt also says this Suicide Prevention Month, anyone can help by saving and sharing the numbers for the Alaska Careline and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.