East Hawaii News

Suicide Prevention Focus of Activities Next Week

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Hawaii and the Big Island are joining with communities across the nation and world next week to raise awareness about suicides, their prevention and support available to families.

Efforts during National Suicide Prevention Week will include World Suicide Prevention Day on Monday, Sept. 10. “Collaborations in Suicidology: Bridging the Disciplines” is this year’s national theme.

“A suicidal death is difficult for friends, family, and loved ones to fathom,” said Nancy Kern, suicide prevention coordinator for the state Department of Health. “There are often warning signs in the form of depression or a mental illness, but suicide can also seemingly strike out of nowhere.

“Regardless of the motivation behind it, suicide is the most extreme case of self-harm,” she said. “For those who are contemplating such an act, know someone who might be at risk for suicide, or for those left behind, there are numerous resources available in Hawaii.”


Big Island activities include public awareness sign-waving across the island by the Hawaii Island East Side Task Force.

Also, suicide awareness presentations will be given in local high schools in Kona and a candlelight vigil for suicide survivors will be held at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Kona. For information visit http://preventsuicidekona.com/.

Some suicide facts about Hawaii:

  • Although Hawaii ranks eighth lowest in the nation in suicide rates, it was the state’s single leading cause of fatal injuries from 2007 to 2011.
  • Also, the annual rate of suicide among the state’s residents in increasing for most age groups except for those age 75 or older. Elderly residents, those 85 and older, and those in the 45-54 age group had the highest fatality rates. Three times as many suicide victims were male as female.
  • Suicide fatality rates were 38% lower on Oahu than on neighbor islands, where rates were roughly similar.
  • The most common mechanism was hanging or suffocation (49%), followed by firearms (20%), poisonings (14%) and jumps from high places (10%).

According to the 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, compared to national rates, Hawaii high school students had the ninth-highest self-reported prevalence of considering suicide, the second-highest for making a plan, and the 16th-highest for attempting suicide. The prevalence of these risk factors was higher for female students than male students in Hawaii.

Nationally, each year approximately 900,000 Americans attempt suicide and more than 17,000 men and women kill themselves with a gun. That’s two-thirds more than the number who use a gun to kill another person.

Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the nation, with one suicide occurring on average about every 15 minutes. An estimated 4.6 million Americans are survivors of the suicide of a friend, family member of loved one.



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