What is PC CARES?

Promoting Community Conversations About Research to End Suicide (PC CARES) is a community health intervention designed, supported, and implemented by the remote communities of Northwest Alaska. PC CARES builds communities of practice among local and regional service providers, community members, friends, and families to spark multilevel and sustained efforts for suicide prevention. In this model, monthly learning circles supported by local facilitators foster personal and collective learning about suicide prevention in order to spur practical action on multiple levels to prevent suicide and promote health.

Each of the nine PC CARES learning circles is brought to 12 remote Alaskan villages by trained local facilitators. Drawing on decades of suicide prevention research in Arctic Indigenous communities, the nine learning circles give research evidence a community platform in order for Alaskans to decide what's next in their local efforts to end suicide.

Funding for developing and supporting research on PC CARES was provided by the National Institute of Mental Health (R34 MH096884) and programming support was received from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

What are the guiding principles of PC CARES?

  • It takes a village—and all organizations within in it—to prevent suicide.

Therefore, PC CARES invites community leaders, service providers, and others to come together for learning circles each month.

  • Scientific research can strengthen and guide village efforts.

Each learning circle starts by sharing ‘bite-size’ bits of information or ‘what we know’ about suicide prevention and how to promote wellness.

  • Community members are best able make sense of and use ‘what we know’ to prevent suicide and promote wellness in their own communities.

By sparking regular community conversations, PC CARES builds partnerships among community members and providers in order to effectively prevent suicide and promote wellness.

What does a PC CARES session look like?

  • PC CARES sessions are welcoming, respectful and productive.

  • Everyone is both a learner and teacher.

  • People know what to expect and are clear about the purpose of each session.

  • The sessions are designed to fit within cultural and community practices.

How can I get involved?

There are many opportunities to be involved, either as a volunteer Local Steering Committee Member, attending a Learning Circle in your community, or incorporating PC CARES into your work and education as a facilitator. Facilitators are eligible for 3 free 200-level Human Services (HUMS 250) credits from UAF. Contact Tara Schmidt for details at taraschmidt@umass.edu.

What is the science behind PC CARES?

Combining health education and community mobilization, PC CARES is built on a transactional-ecological framework that emphasizes community and cultural protective factors in Alaska Native communities, and the multiple, interacting conditions of suicide. PC CARES extends typical suicide prevention initiatives beyond the traditional gatekeeper model and the bounds of formal clinical encounter to empower individuals, families, and communities to drive change at the local level.

The PDF below is a peer-reviewed paper detailing the development, theoretical foundations, and structured learning of PC CARES:

Creating a Community of Practice to Prevent Suicide Through Multiple Channels: Describing the Theoretical Foundations and Structured Learning of PC CARES

You can explore the content of each session under 'Resources' and learn more about our collaborators under 'The Team.'  

PC CARES is funded by the National Institutes for Health with additional support from the Maniilaq Association, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

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