At Alaskan Natives Conference, Another Suicide

Police say man jumps to his death inside building
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 19, 2015 3:02 PM CDT
Emergency vehicles line up outside the Deni'ina Convention Center in downtown Anchorage.   (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

(Newser) – The largest annual gathering of indigenous people in Alaska took place over the weekend, with a recent spate of suicides in a rural village among the group's big issues, reports AP. Sadly, the conference was cut short because of yet another suicide inside the very building where members of the Alaska Federation of Natives were meeting in downtown Anchorage. Police say 49-year-old Anthony Choquette jumped off a third-floor balcony and fell about 60 feet to his death in the Dena'ina Center, reports Alaska Dispatch News.

“I saw him climb over, and in that quarter of a second hoped it was a reckless joke and that he'd climb back onto the floor, but then I saw him let go and fall, then the sound, then the screams,” one witness tells ADN. The suicide took place just ahead of the closing ceremony of the convention (the closing banquet that was meant to follow was canceled), at which speakers lamented that Alaska's suicide rate is twice the national average. “It is still an epidemic,” says the chair of the Statewide Suicide Prevention Council. “There’s been no improvement in the 12 years I’ve been on the board.”

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