Apologies for the lack of posts, news or info on Drew’s Foundation site the last few months.  I took some time to practice a little self-care, spend time with my family, and prepare for another winter season in Western Alaska.  September brings the day of my son’s birthday and that is always hard for me.  I think of what might have been, what will never be and I grieve.  Almost 4 years and my sense of loss is sometimes still as raw as the day we got that call.  Our family goes on.  We love and support our other children, but we all suffer still with what we can never explain.

Are we making a difference?  I think so.  I don’t follow statistics every day, week, or even month.  I believe suicide rates are down a little.   I think all the efforts to get people, and especially young people, to “call someone” are working.  Careline calls are at a record level.  Many commited individuals like Barb Franks and Cynthia Erikson, through their persistence and refusal to give up, are getting others to listen and forward the message.  Life is worth living.  If we care for each other we can help each other.  Sounds so simple.

While I see some positive trends I’m deeply troubled by what I see as a slow suicide epidemic sweeping across Bethel and Western Alaska.  Heroin addiction.  Here in Bethel our homes, businesses, and persons are under attack by those feeding their habits.  While that is extremely troubling, what is worse, is the slow suicide of those experimenting, using and or addicted to this truly evil drug.   The lives of these mostly young people are heading for a fate as certain as that at the end of a gun, the noose of a rope, a handful of pills.

If you are using, call someone.  There are no great people in history who were or are junkies.  If you are a parent who has even the smallest thought that your son or daughter is using do not be passive.  Jail is a much better outcome than the morgue.  Like the suicides we are and have been dealing with for much to long this slow suicide has warning signs.  It also has outcomes that are depressingly predictable.

Be a parent.  Be a friend.  Don’t be afraid to speak up, stick your nose in, get in somebody’s business.  If it means their life whats the downside?


The 4th annual Walk for Life will be held on May 10th at 11:00 am starting at the Cultural Center parking lot. There will be a 5K run starting at the same time for those wishing to go a little faster.  The run/walk will end at Lions Club Park.  Please join us and show your support for suicide prevention in the YK Delta.

For the third year Drews Foundation hosted A Place of Memory at the Cama-i Dance Festival. As has happened the past two years there were tears, smiles, hugs, thoughts, and so many other emotions connected with healing and remembering. By Sunday the emotional and spiritual energy in the room was so strong.
This year I was joined in the room by a very remarkable woman and three extraordinary young ladies from the Tanana 4-H Club. This is a group of empowered young people who are “Breaking the Silence” and talking about what they hate in their lives. (Abuse, neglect, alcohol and drugs, sexual assault and molestation, suicide, bullying and more) and what they love and how they would change things. Arriving on Wednesday they went right to work presenting at Bethel Jr/Sr High School health and PE classes. This continued thru Thursday and Friday . Friday afternoon, along with the TAAV (Teens Acting Against Violence) kids, they helped set up the Memory Room. Throughout the weekend they connected with young people from around the Delta. It was truly inspiring to watch, listen and learn. Please watch their u-tube video at Tanana 4-H Breaking the Silence.
I want to thank these young people and their leader Cynthia Erikson for an awesome job. Thanks to the TAAV kids for their great help. Every year they step up, do a wonderful job and make my work easier. Thanks to John Wallace for his continuing tech support and to Linda Curda who gave me permission to start this three years ago and who now is such a big supporter. Thanks to all those who visit the room-you are why we do this.


It has been a busy time this past month as Drew’s Foundation patches have been crossing the great State of Alaska during the past month as our sponsored teams crossed the State using traditional and modern forms of transportation!

Drews Foundation would like to thank Iron Dog Team 19 Gux Lareau and Steven Boney for carrying our positive lifestyles/ suicide prevention message during the recent running of the 2014 Iron Dog Snowmachine Race.  There were so many good reports of their willingness to share their time and stories.  Having just arrived in Tanana for a mandatory layover the boys were spirited off to the school where they shared with the students.  They were gracious, humble and sharing (maybe a little cold and tired also) and much appreciated.  Many thanks to them for their continued support of Drews Foundation.  THANKS GUYS.


Just this past week both Pete Kaiser of Bethel and Mike Williams Jr. of Akiak finished the 2014 Iditarod on one of the toughest trails in memory. The Team’s perseverance and patience are inspiration to all after hearing some of the tough conditions that they faced during this year’s event. Hear what Mike had to say about us in his pre-race interview:


For our family the New Year brings hope and expectation as it does for most families. For us it also brings an anniversary. Three years ago this coming night our son took his life. This fact never leaves us nor does a day go by that its not thought about. And in 3 more days we will have the anniversary of when he was found and we got that phone call. These anniversaries will continue and with them the memories and yes the pain will return. As each one in our family deals with these dates in their own way we draw on our love for each other and our bonds as a family.

As the New Year begins take your strength, your smiles, your helping hands, and share them. Offer them to someone who seems to be in need. You will rarely be wrong.
And if you are low, depressed, in pain, or seeing no way out, call someone. Talk to someone. Stop for just a moment and reach out. Someone loves you, someone wants to help. Suicide is never the answer. Peace in the coming year.

Drew’s Foundation director Paul O’Brien was included in a group of Alaskan Survivors of Suicide gathered by the State to discusss the status of postvention systems and services in Alaska.  The group was also asked to consider the future of postvention in the state.  The results of these deliberations will be presented back to the state on how to enhance and improve systems and services in Alaska particularly with respect to those affected by suicide attempts and fatalities.   A report is in the works but more work needs to be done.  If anyone has specific ideas about how postvention services might be created and/or delivered please contact us at Drew’s Foundation with your ideas.  The statewide Suicide Summit is convening in early January and that will present an opportunity to further discuss these ideas.  Contact Paul at 545-3606 or e-mail at obrienak69@gmail.com.  You can also contact on our Facebook page.