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Statement to PolitiFact from Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska

This is the full text of the statement Rep. Don Young's office sent PolitiFact regarding his comments about suicide:

"Congressman Young received a question from an Alaskan constituent yesterday asking him to address the remarks he made at Wasilla High School. In his response, he made clear that suicide is due to mental illness and occurs for a number of factors, including those identified in his presentation.

"Congressman Young was very serious and forthright when discussing the issue of suicide during his presentation, in part because of the high number of tragedies that affect Alaskan youth and his own personal experiences with dealing with a troubled family member. He discussed what he believes are leading causes of youth suicide in our state, including the impact of drugs and alcohol, depression, a feeling of worthlessness, and a lack of support systems. Congressman Young did not mean to upset anyone with his well-intentioned message, and in light of the tragic events affecting the Wasilla High School community, he should have taken a much more sensitive approach.

"Congressman Young has resided in Alaska for over 50 years, in both rural communities and larger cities. Sadly, no matter where one lives in Alaska domestic violence and suicide can and does hurt us and those we love. As Congressman Young said, in some households these issues stem from mental illness, such as depression, which left untreated can ruin lives. For others, it’s alcoholism, another disease that destroys homes and families. The Congressman also identified the sense of hopelessness as another leading factor, particularly for rural students who don’t see any opportunities to work or contribute to society. Nonetheless, issues like suicide and domestic violence cannot be discussed in isolation or generalities. Each and every case is different, and should be addressed in that manner.

"Congressman Young extends his condolences to the student’s family and the Wasilla High School community. He regrets that his comments caused additional pain during this difficult time."