“I got tired of being passive,” recalls high school student Jacob Brouillette of Elim, Alaska.
He was devastated after the loss of his best friend to suicide. Surrounded by friends and family who said someone “ought to do something,” Jacob decided to act. He endeavored to “become the leader that I wanted to see in society.” He set out to reduce the high rate of suicide in his home region. His story is the subject of a KNOM series focusing on Western Alaska youth, Caught Doing Something Good, produced by volunteer Karen Trop.
“Suicide isn’t an easy thing to talk about,” Jacob tells KNOM listeners in the September episode. But “for me,” he says, “I try to reach for opportunities where I can talk about it.” One of his first steps was to approach his high school counselor. They crafted the idea of a traveling seminar to raise awareness of suicide prevention and to encourage positive attitudes among rural Alaska teenagers. During these youth gatherings, Jacob discovered not only an affinity for suicide prevention, but also the courage to speak up for healthier lifestyles — and to encourage his peers to do the same. “People want to hear someone who steps up and talks about their beliefs.” Jacob says, “I’m trying to encourage youth to stand up and talk about things they believe in with me, because I don’t want to hear ‘we need more people like you.’ No. I want people to join me.” He summarizes his advice: “Go and do something worth talking about.”
In his home community of Elim, Jacob volunteers as a peer counselor, listening to those who need to talk or who simply “need help, right in the moment.” But, he says, “I don’t think of myself as a leader — I just think of myself as a sophomore.”
You can hear the profile of Jacob that your support made possible right here, at knom.org.
Image at top: Jacob Brouillette at the Aniguiin School in Elim. Photo courtesy of Aaron Palmer.