Increased suicide rate needs closer look

The Garden Island recently editorialized on how the suicide rate is the highest it’s ever been. They went on to say: “The suicide death rate last year was the highest it’s been in at least 50 years, according to U.S. government records. This is an area of huge concern on Kauai, where young people can be overwhelmed with hopelessness.” May I add not only of grave concern to the young but our middle-aged and kupuna populations, as well.

The opioid epidemic has also been devastating. Pregnancy-associated mortality has more than doubled in the past decade. Even the rate of death from heart disease, which had been falling, has leveled off. And according to a CNN study, guns kill nearly 1,300 U.S. children each year. Gun deaths have added dramatically to the suicide statistic along with accidental overdoes from the opioid crisis.

Suicide is hard on the loved ones, who are often going through depression and issues of their own.

Suicide can be prevented and, hopefully, those with tendencies will seek help.

I believe suicide numbers are not necessarily as high as most studies suggest. The stats and numbers tell you so, yes. That’s because we now live in a transparent, “tell-all” society.

When I was a child I had a close relative commit suicide. I never found out until I was an adult. I was told at the time along with other relatives and the general public he had died of a heart attack. The obituary in the newspaper said the same. Plus, being Jewish, you cannot be buried in a Jewish cemetery if you commit suicide and, also, many life-insurance policies are null and void for suicide.

Ask Moses, can a suicide victim be buried in a Jewish cemetery? (for the record)

How many suicides go unreported and are disguised in the ending as heart attacks, strokes, natural causes or something else on the death certificates? These days, most likely not very many, but back when I was a lad, suicide was frowned upon and families were shamed. Suicide was disguised whenever possible.

Yes, suicide is tragic, but is it really on the rise or has it always been rampant or do we now just live in a more-transparent society?

This time of year can be especially hard on those combating depression and thoughts of suicide. For anyone even thinking suicide there is a national suicide prevention lifeline with help 24-7. The toll-free number is 800-273-TALK. The website is

Wishing everyone a Mele Kalikimaka and a Hau‘oli Makahiki Hou!


James “Kimo” Rosen lives in Kapaa with his bipartisan dog “Ivanka Obama,” and blogs as a hobby.

  1. Kerry Swartz December 28, 2018 3:39 pm Reply

    You are simply dead wrong about the fact that Jews who commit suicide today cannot be buried in a Jewish cemetery.

  2. Debra Kekaualua December 29, 2018 9:58 am Reply

    The spirit of CAN. This newest hui of professionals are working their agenda to combat suicide. However, there is also an agenda of “contract suicide” that is also heavy on our mind and it is all related to the word “Hope”, as in most peoples who consider or complete the suicide have lost it. The biggest problem that outlines the activities of hopelessness can be said in one word. Deoccupation!

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