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Raising awareness for suicide prevention

LIHU‘E — The most important takeaway from Friday night is that help is available and people should seek out the resources to live a long and happy life, said Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami to a group of more than a hundred people at the Hokuala Rockin’ Range facility.

“There is help available,” Kawakami said, turning over a copy of the proclamation announcing September as Suicide Prevention Month to members of the Prevent Suicide Kaua‘i Task Force.

“I ask the people of the Aloha State to help raise awareness of local and national mental health and suicide prevention resources available to our communities, and encourage all those in need to seek the care and treatment necessary for a long and healthy life.”

Accepting the announcement, the task force that includes the Kaua‘i Mental Health Advocates, state Department of Health, the Prevent Suicide coalition, and the group’s many community friends lit up the night with the “Light Up the Night” fundraiser at the Rockin’ Range. The fundraiser kicked off Suicide Prevention Awareness Month with the help of the Tom Freestone and the Hokuala and Airborne Aviation ‘ohana.

T-shirts donned at the event indicated that a portion of funds generated will be turned over to help Maui with its people’s recovery from the wildfires.

According to information on the proclamation, suicide is a serious public health problem with long-lasting effects on individuals, families and communities across the country. Suicide was responsible for 48,183 deaths in 2021, which meant a death every 11 minutes.

On Kaua‘i, there were 60 documented suicide deaths among residents between 2018 and 2022. Breaking that down, it means 102 suicide deaths per 100,000 residents over 15 years of age.

The Prevent Suicide Kaua‘i Task Force is a partnership of government agencies, private companies, nonprofit organizations, community groups and individuals working collaboratively to provide leadership, develop strategies, coordinate activities and monitor progress of suicide prevention efforts on Kaua‘i and Hawai‘i.

Kaua‘i Mental Health Advocates (KMHA), co-founded by Franci Davila and Bel Heredia, is one of those agencies. KMHA has a mission to destigmatize mental health by offering direct services to the community, free of charge. The fundraiser helps KMHA facilitate direct clinical services, support groups and critical suicide-prevention workshops to combat the losses by suicide in Kaua‘i’s community.


Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 808-245-0453 or
Source: The Garden Island

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