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Alaska is extremely fortunate in the appointment of Joe Balash.

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Casey Donald Nelson Sr., 88, died Nov. 30, 2017, in Anchorage. He was born Feb. 8, 1929, in Prince Rupert, British Columbia.
10/11/2017
9-3-3

Give us three numbers to press.

Ones like 9-1-1, but not 9-1-1; that’s taken.

Perhaps 9-3-3.

It’s coming.

The National Suicide Hotline Improvement Act of 2017 would create such a three-digit number to call in an attempt to prevent suicides.

Suicide has reached its highest level in 30 years, with about 44,000 people dying nationally annually as a result of suicide. That’s 122 people on average per day.

The rate of suicide has increased by 24 percent in the past 18 years.

We might consider that if we’ve gained in the number of suicides during this time, and we have, then surely something correspondingly has been lost.

Suicide can be prompted by a buffet of factors — dysfunctional relationships, drugs and alcohol, health issues, lack of faith beyond the present existence, to name a few. Each of these factors top a multitude of sub-factors, too.

It’s obvious we’ve lost when it comes to healthy relationships, sobriety, mental and physical well-being, and taking enough time to address the suicide issue. We’ve got problems to solve.

Suicide isn’t an answer to anything. It’s an illness and it needs to be stopped.

The Suicide Hotline Improvement Act calls for a study to look at the feasibility of designating a three-digit suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline number.

The study, to be completed by the Federal Communications Commission, also would review the current National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, particularly its effectiveness for veterans — a frequent and regular segment of the community choosing suicide.

The act gives the commission 180 days to complete the study and report back to Congress.

The study would result in a number being recommended, a description of the logistics in designating a number, and the cost involved.

This act, H.R. 2345, has been passed by the House, and is making its way through Senate committees.

Alaska’s congressional delegation is particularly interested in the topic, given that Alaska rates second highest in the nation per capita for suicides.

Alaskans share that concern. Give us the three-digit number.