Letters for May 20, 2015

• Please learn about mental illness • All welcome to pray

Please learn about mental illness

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I am the founder of NAMI Kauai (National Alliance on Mental Illness). We were certified as an affiliate of NAMI Hawaii in September 2014. I am deeply saddened by the outblast of Paul Clay regarding the death of Eben Kaneshiro. I don’t see anywhere in that article May 3, that Eben was “honored as a good boy.”

Deep in her grief, Eben’s mother simply stated that is how she would like her son remembered. I thank The Garden Island News for publishing this very important story.

Valerie Kaneshiro actually took the NAMI signature, evidence based, family to family class in 2008, when she noticed the change in her son’s behavior. At that time, teachers flew in from Honolulu to present the class over a 12-week period. Val was actually trying to seek help and understanding for that change in her son’s behavior.

This is the typical story of those suffering from a mental illness. It is not normal to sexually molest; it is not normal to commit suicide. I would ask Mr. Clay to consider the possibility that Eban had an undiagnosed mental illness. Until it happens to someone you are close to, or a beloved family member, it is impossible to have empathy and understanding about the stigma of mental illness. I don’t fault Val for remembering her son as she knew him; I don’t fault Mr. Clay from his lack of empathy and education about mental illness.

I am not condoning Eben’s behavior. I do, however, believe he was very, very ill.

I hope that this letter further opens the dialogue on our island of Kauai, so that everyday people will educate themselves about mental illness and addiction. The family to family class is given twice a year at no cost.

There is a monthly support group in Lihue on the fourth Wednesday of every month. I encourage forgiveness and understanding of those who have not experience the hell of having a close friend or family member suffering from mental illness. It is not a chosen way of life. The contributing factors are genetics, stress, substance abuse and environment, which precipitates these diseases. This is a medical problem, not a social or behavioral problem.

For more information about mental illness or about NAMI, please visit the national site at NAMI.org or our Kauai website at NAMI Kauai. I can be reached at 635-3239

Kathy Sheffield, Kalaheo

All welcome to pray

As the chairperson of the Interfaith Roundtable of Kauai, I was saddened by the recent letter by James “Kimo” Rosen titled, “Praying? More like preying.”

Kimo, to even suggest that the two faith-based organizations, Kauai Island Ministries and IROK are “prey(ing) on each other” is simply not true.

Faith, and the free expression of it as each person (or group) sees fit is what IROK (and KIM) are about. KIM and IROK are already aligned on this issue (see Mark Beeksmaletter in TGI dated May 6). Furthermore, KIM and IROK worked closely together for weeks in advance of the National Day of Prayer in coordinating our two prayer servicestimes, sharing use of the chairs, podium and cabana tent (which KIM provided and set up for both groups to use), and included brief mention of the other group’s prayerservice in our announcements.

The “umbrella” was the National Day of Prayer and each group took turns standing under the “umbrella.” Frankly, there is nothing wrong with two prayer services on thesame day, just as there is nothing wrong with multiple sessions at a conference. Thus, for those who did not attend this year’s National Day of Prayer, I invite you nextyear to experience one or both prayer services. Atheists and agnostics, too, for all are welcome.

Jeffrey Pears, InterfaithRoundtableOfKauai.org, Lihue

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