A Hit!! Flying Wild Alaska and Suicide, More Reality!


Jan 24, 2011

If you haven’t watched or heard about the new Discovery Channel reality,  show Flying Wild Alaska, look it up!! I know you are thinking …’another Alaska reality show???’ but hold on for a few more sentences at least, THIS ONE is worth it!

It is on Fridays and it is about REAL Alaskans, the Tweto family, with REAL jobs and issues. It is serious but has some cute/funny parts. It shows a family, strong working women, and respectful teenagers. OK the daughter, Ariel,  is probably somewhat older than a ‘teenager’ and is a little ‘mouthy’, BUT only by my grandma’s standards! She is also cute and seems to actually work at a job in the family business without a lot of crap being flung about.

It is based in Unalakleet, which is north of Bethel and deals with the largest regional airline, Era Airlines,  that serves many parts of ‘bush’ Alaska.

The show just aired its second episode this past Friday night. The weather and circumstances are real, little to nothing seems made up or ‘staged’ about those things, as many Alaskans can tell you.

On this second episode toward the end they get a phone call about getting a casket delivered in a timely manner to a village north of their base. It is due to a young person’s death, by suicide.

This  IS a real part of the life in the ‘bush’ and there is no need for it. They talk about the cost in airfare, lost lives and what made an impression in this household…Ariel says ‘she almost got use to it”, meaning the large number of suicide deaths.  To imagine ‘getting used to’ something like suicide!

In Alaska we have TWICE the national average!! We have heard about the teens that are killing themselves at an alarming rate but now we are hearing that ELDERS are a part of this. As reported in the Juneau Empire :

The report by the Statewide Suicide Prevention Council for fiscal year 2010 says Alaska’s overall suicide rate is twice the national average, and that Alaska Natives continue to account for an even more disproportionate number.

It also notes that an alarming suicide rate among the state’s elderly residents warrants further scrutiny.

When Flying Wild Alaska shows this part, the reaction of Ariel, a local radio man, and others it important in our eyes.

To show how it affects people, to open up the discussion and make it more talked about it just one of the things that needs to happen. It is part of the ‘solution’ that needs to happen to help work out ways to reduce this.

In February there is to be meeting in Juneau by the 15-member council, established by lawmakers in 2001, to launch the councils goal for a multiyear prevention plan. We as a state, and nation need to come to better understand and work on ways to prevent this.

Please let this ‘plan’ bring some tangible, measurable goals.  Please keep the conversation going until it does. There are no immediate answers here but we hope to  keep the focus on the issue.  With continued discussion hopefully it will bring things to a sooner decrease of the ‘statistics’.

Flying Wild Alaska, the Discovery Channel, Era Airlines and the Tweto family did a big thing this past Friday…it brought the subject up on a national show!! Thank you!!!


6 Responses to “A Hit!! Flying Wild Alaska and Suicide, More Reality!”

  1. hedgewytch Says:

    As soon as I saw this episode I immediately facebooked my lower 48 friends and family and said “This is the real Alaska”.

    While I live in southcentral – we also depend almost entirely on air transport to get in and out. I love our flight service – they work so hard and make such a huge difference to the lives of the communities that they serve. This 2nd episode of “Flying Alaska” really points that out.

  2. UgaVic Says:

    This household stumbled across the first episode, having heard some general conversation on a ‘great show’.

    We laughed and nodded our heads on the weather. Having a former commercial pilot who has flown in many parts of Western Alaska there was much discussion about all that is dealt with to serve villages.

    You are so right these airlines make a HUGE difference in the lives of many.

    We tuned in for sure on the second episode and were happy to see the same quality. We were also happy(Ok not the best word) that the subject of suicide, that has been happening at an alarming rate, was talked about. The toll it takes on families, villages and the area is untold.

  3. Boodog Says:

    I am in awe of the villagers who live under such harsh conditions, and the pilots who make life a little better for them. The show is terrific. I hope also that this brings more light on the subject of suicide among the rural people- I had no idea the rate was so high. Good luck at the Juneau council meeting.

  4. jim Says:

    I have flown with three bush pilots who later died in the line of duty. The first was Don Jonz who later perished with Nick Begich and Hale Boggs. Hale Boggs was in line to become the Speaker of the U.S. House. Instead we got Tip O’Neill– remember him? Begich was the last person to beat Don Young in a congressional election.

    Bush Pilots are heroes. They take risks. Sometimes situations demand that they take risks.

    I’m opposed to proposals to expand military flying space in Alaska. Rural pilots have enough to deal with already– they don’t need more airspace restrictions of their flying routes. Restrictions could also result in increased transportation costs and fees for rural residents. If the military wants more flying space, they should compensate rural residents and air services for any cost consequences.

  5. jim Says:

    Don’t want to venture off topic, but I’m interested that Alaska bush pilot Don Jonz got deleted from Wikipedia because:

    “Most of this article is about the incident. A page on the incident may be notable but there is no evidence that this individual is notable outside the incident.”

    Au contraire. Wasn’t he on that national tv show What’s My Line after he ran out of gas and landed on a freeway? Or was that someone else? Alaskans talked about him all the time. He was very notable. Poor naive Wikipedia.

  6. Cindy Roque Says:

    Now if the Sarah Palin’s who are making millions off Alaska would give some back to the villages — ie… start a foundation to put pools and gyms in every Alaskan village to encourage the youth to stay active and health — then we’d have something… God knows the Donald Trumps and Oprahs in the big business have money to burn — my wish is she’d put her money/heart where her mouth is — tap into the big boy network of $$$
    then we may have change. Without $$$ in the villages… there will be despair… we need to make the places happier places to be for our youth.

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