HONOLULU — In Hawai‘i, one person dies from suicide every two days.
The state Department of Health Emergency Medical Services and Injury Prevention System Branch, in partnership with the Prevent Suicide Hawai‘i Task Force, announced a series of online community events in recognition of Suicide Prevention Month in Hawai‘i. These virtual events will be held throughout September and October.
The goal is to raise public awareness about suicide prevention and the impact of suicide in Hawai‘i, as well as to connect survivors with “postvention” services — intervention activities after a suicide to support grieving family and friends who can potentially be at risk for suicide themselves. These services include safe media messaging, trainings for professionals, survivor outreach and family member support.
In Hawai‘i, suicide is the leading cause of fatal injuries for ages 15 to 64, and is the ninth leading cause of all deaths in the state. From 2015 to 2019, nearly 1,000 Hawai‘i residents died from suicide.
“Suicide is a serious, complex and preventable public health issue,” said state DOH Director Dr. Bruce Anderson.
“It requires a strategic and comprehensive approach through outreach, collaboration with stakeholders and building and maintaining statewide relationships to ensure resources are available to those who need them most. We hope that through these efforts, we’ll be able to identify effective strategies to reduce the risk of suicide,” he said.
Each year, the Out of Darkness Walk is one of the largest Suicide Prevention Month activities held in the state. Volunteers organize the event to increase awareness of suicide-prevention resources and the available support for at-risk individuals, loved ones of suicide survivors and the public.
Last year, more than 900 participants, including representatives from all branches of the military and students from local schools, took part in the walk.
This year, the walk fundraiser will become the Out of Darkness Experience, and it will be held virtually on Saturday, Oct. 24. The virtual experience will include a recap of suicide-prevention activities from around the island and a live chat to give people hope, healing and help. To register for the Out of Darkness Experience, visit afsp.org/hawaii.
To access crisis support, mental-health resources, or substance-use-treatment services, call Hawaii CARES at 1 (800) 753-6879, or text 741741. Resources are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
For more information about Hawai‘i CARES, go to manoa.hawaii.edu/cares. To learn more about suicide prevention in Hawai‘i, visit health.hawaii.gov/injuryprevention/home/suicide-prevention/information/.
The 2020 Suicide Prevention Month virtual and sign-waving activities on Kaua‘i include:
• Now to Sept. 30: Rocks of Hope — Painted rocks virtual activity with messages of aloha;
• Suicide Prevention Awareness Month proclamation with the Prevent Suicide Kaua‘i Task Force and community partners (details to be announced);
• Sign waving across Kaua‘i — Multiple locations (details be announced);
• Oct. 24: Out of the Darkness Experience. Contact: Patricia Wistinghausen, email@example.com or 346-7492, or see preventsuicidekauai.org for more information.