Listening helps

LIHUE — Help can be as simple as listening, said Matt Bernabe.

“I lost several people to suicide,” Bernabe said. “A simple act like listening can mean the difference between whether a person is here tomorrow, or gone.”

Bernabe was one of several representatives of the Prevent Suicide Kauai Task Force that gathered in the atrium of the Moikeha Building, Lihue Civic Center, as a staging area for a sign-waving campaign at four locations around the island Friday afternoon.

The sign-waving coincides with National Suicide Prevention Week.

Gina Kaulukukui of Life’s Bridges said the stigma associated with mental illness and suicidal tendencies works against suicide prevention by discouraging persons at risk for suicide from seeking help.

“The mind, like other parts of the body, can become ill,” Kaulukukui said. “My brother took his life in an auto accident. My mother still says, ‘He died in an auto accident.’ He used a car to take his life. When someone suffers from mental illness, we need to treat it — not hide it.”

Suicide is the 10th-leading cause of death among Hawaii residents of all ages, states a proclamation announcing September on Kauai as Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month.

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The Garden Island

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