Rep. Don Young (R-AK) seems to be standing by the rather blunt comments he made about suicide this week in front of an audience of high school students mourning the loss of a classmate who took his own life.
In a bizarre appearance Tuesday at Wasilla High School, Young reportedly offended students and staff when he said, among other things, that suicide is caused by a lack of support from friends and family. The Alaska Dispatch News reported that Young added “government largesse” to the list of factors contributing to suicide when he was asked about those comments Wednesday during a speech at a local senior center.
“When people had to work and had to provide and had to keep warm by putting participation in cutting wood and catching the fish and killing the animals, we didn’t have the suicide problem,” Young said, according to audio of his speech provided to the newspaper by his Democratic challenger Forrest Dunbar’s campaign.
He added that suicide comes from the federal government “saying you are not worth anything but you are going to get something for nothing,” according to the Dispatch-News.
Matt Shuckerow, a spokesman for Young, told the newspaper that the congressman was “serious and forthright when discussing the issue of suicide, in part because of the high number of tragedies that affect Alaska youth and his own personal experiences with dealing with a troubled family member.” He added that Young referenced other factors contributing to suicide, including alcohol and depression.
Shuckerow also reiterated in his statement to the Dispatch News that the congressman regretted that his comments on suicide cause “additional pain during this difficult time” for Wasilla High School students.