Rebecca Hersher | KERA News

Rebecca Hersher

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How do you help someone who is at risk of suicide?

That's a question that haunts the people of Greenland, the country with the highest known rate of suicide in the world and the subject of a special NPR report this week. The rate is about 80 per 100,000, and the group at highest risk is young Inuit men.

But it's a question that anyone, anywhere, might ask. Every year, about 1 million people kill themselves worldwide; preventing suicides is an issue every culture deals with.

Earlier this year, in response to a story about Greenland, an astute reader of this blog commented:

Charles Tudora month ago

The first death was on the night of Jan. 9.

It was a Saturday. Pele Kristiansen spent the morning at home, drinking beers and hanging out with his older brother, which wasn't so unusual. There wasn't a lot of work in town. A lot of people drank. In the afternoon, they heard someone banging on their door, yelling.

"Polar bear! It's a polar bear!"

On the frozen fjord a couple of miles away, they could see the bear. Hunting in the Arctic — bears and reindeer and seals and birds — is at the core of Inuit life, even today.

On Nov. 24, the sun set in the tiny Greenlandic town of Ittoqqortoormiit. When I arrived in mid-January, it had yet to rise again.

Even for Greenland, Ittoqqortoormiit is isolated. It's considerably colder and darker than the capital, Nuuk.

"I remember my first Christmas on the west coast [of Greenland]," says Mette Barselajsen, who was born here and is raising her four kids in town. "I remember I was surprised we had the sun at Christmas. Like, too light!"

Hadia Durani is one of the cool girls at her school in Kabul. She's chatty and gets good grades, and when she grows up she wants to be president.

In class, Hadia is outgoing, but once she leaves the schoolyard, things are different. She says men and boys yell at her when she's walking to and from school. They tell her she should stay at home, and call her mean names, and when that happens, she just keeps her head down and ignores them.

"It will just start an argument," she shrugs. "And [the girls] get blamed."

In this installment of NPR's series Inside Alzheimer's, we hear from Greg O'Brien about his decision to forgo treatment for another life-threatening illness. A longtime journalist in Cape Cod, Mass., O'Brien was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease in 2009.

NBC's former chief health editor, Dr. Nancy Snyderman, has shared her experience of being quarantined in her New Jersey home last year after reporting on Ebola.

In this installment of NPR's series Inside Alzheimer's, we hear from Greg O'Brien about losing his sense of taste and smell, and how he's learning there's much more to a good meal than food. O'Brien, a longtime journalist in Cape Cod, Mass., was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease in 2009.

In this installment of NPR's series Inside Alzheimer's, we hear from Greg O'Brien about his decision to sell the home where he and his wife raised their three children. O'Brien, a longtime journalist in Cape Cod, Mass., was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease in 2009.

Greg and Mary Catherine O'Brien have lived in their house on Cape Cod for more than 30 years. It's their dream house. They used to imagine growing old there.

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