Final Report on PC CARES for Northwest Alaska

Executive Summary

Developed in partnership with Maniilaq Wellness Program, Kawerak Wellness, and members of Northwest Alaska and Bering Strait communities, Promoting Community Conversations About Research to End Suicide (PC CARES) offers a clear way to address youth suicide in self-determined ways. This approach shares helpful information, but does not tell participants how they should use it. Instead, PC CARES assumes that each participant can best determine how to put the new prevention information to use.


In the first ever roll out of PC CARES in Maniilaq’s service area from 2015-2017, it shows great success! Facilitated by 23 community volunteers, PC CARES brought together 495 local people and service providers in 10 villages to participate in 64 PC CARES learning circles. Each of the 8 learning circles highlights a different piece of research aimed at sharing ‘what we know’ about suicide prevention and wellness. Participants, then, discuss how the research applies to their unique lives and communities. Importantly, the last part of each learning circle is spent considering ‘what they want to do’ for prevention and wellness within their villages and families.


Hosted by local facilitators, PC CARES learning circles were popular and worthwhile. Ten out of 11 villages implemented PC CARES, and half completed the 8-session, ~24 hour curriculum. Participants in these learning circles talked about how much they liked the model. Pre-post surveys show that PC CARES participants increased their knowledge, skills, and prevention activities after attending the learning circles. Our social network surveys, which was done with PC CARES participants and others, showed that people who are ‘close to’ PC CARES participants also learned something about prevention. These ‘close others’ did more prevention activities when compared to other community members. This finding suggests that PC CARES participants talked about what they were learning with close friends and family members, who then did more for prevention.  


With strong evidence showing significant benefits of the intervention, PC CARES is a promising and practical way to translate scientific research into community-driven, culturally responsive and suicide prevention practice that could reduce suicide risk in rural Alaska Native communities.

Download full report here:

Success of the PC CARES training-of-trainers model detailed in International Journal of Circumpolar Health

The International Journal of Circumpolar Health recently published a paper detailing the application of the PC CARES training-of-trainers model to community-based, Alaska Native-led suicide prevention. You can read more below:

Promoting Community Conversations About Research to End Suicide: learning and behavioural outcomes of a training-of-trainers model to facilitate grassroots community health education to address Indigenous youth suicide prevention

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 text below links to a peer-reviewed article 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