By Stephanie Shor, News Editor
Cheers, laughter and honking cars could be heard for miles down Kīlauea Avenue on Tuesday, September 10 in honor of World Suicide Prevention Day. Members of The Clubhouse, a mental health rehabilitation center, joyously waved posters and shakas to passing motorists in what was clearly more a celebration of life then a caution against tragedy.
September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and so a time to stop and take a look through our community for those who might be suffering. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide was the second leading cause of death for ages 25-34 and third leading cause for those between the ages of 15 and 24 in 2010.
What is often more alarming than these figures are the statistical rates of suicide attempts that do not end in fatality. In the United States there are 12 attempted suicides for every one suicide death, meaning that the number of young adults struggling with depression, anxiety and drug addiction is far more than we could imagine.
The signs can be subtle. It may be in the form of an increasing alienation from friends and family, an inability to get out of bed in the morning or persistent feelings that something is missing inside. Suicidal thoughts are not exclusively associated with long-term depression, however. Sudden life changes such as the passing of a loved one or moving away from home for the first time can be difficult for any of our brothers and sisters still trying to find their place in the wor
We are never alone though and, above all, this understanding is what will save many of us. The smallest gestures are often the most profound for someone considering suicide. When the world becomes an increasingly frightening place in the depths of mental illness, even a smile from a passing stranger can be a life-raft. Every day affords the opportunity to change someone’s life in the simplest way.
Likewise, the community offers numerous ways to seek help in a time of need. Here on campus, the UH Hilo Counseling Services offers free sessions of individual, group and couples therapy. Confidential appointments can be made by phone at 808-974-7399 or by visiting the Counseling Services office on the second floor of the Student Services Building. Free mental health consultations are also available to students at the university medical office located in Campus Center.
Currently, the World Health Organization estimates that 20.9 million adults residing in the United States are experiencing some form of mood disorder. This includes mild or chronic depression, ADHD, anxiety, eating disorders, drug addictions, alcoholism and bipolar disorder. In fact, “major depressive disorder is, by itself, the leading cause of disability among Americans age 15 – 44.”
A new world of high expectations and fast-paced movers and shakers has created monsters within us but this does not mean that we have become monsters ourselves. These conditions do not define us, and certainly can be overcome. No other place on earth can prove that happiness is a real and wonderful thing for everyone quite like this big island that we share. In the words of Pat Richards, standing proud amongst his peers, rallying outside The Clubhouse to end suicide, there will be no worries if we “just keep smiling!”
If you or anyone you know experiences suicidal thoughts or tendencies please call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).