Activities put spotlight on suicide prevention

In honor of National Suicide Prevention Week, the state Department of Health is hosting a number of activities statewide to raise awareness about suicide prevention resources, state health officials said in a news release.

Scheduled activities on Maui include:

* Mayor Alan Arakawa will issue a proclamation at 5 p.m. Monday in the Ike Lea Science Building auditorium on the University of Hawaii Maui College campus. The presentation will be followed by a student-run Connect training will take place at the University of Hawaii Maui College.

Developed and operated by National Alliance on Mental Illness – New Hampshire, Connect uses “best practice protocols” for training for service providers and community members, the Connect website said.

* On Friday, there will be a sign waving in front of the college from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. In addition, there will be a suicide prevention information table at the Queen Ka’ahumanu Center from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. that day.

* Throughout the week, Lahainaluna, Baldwin, King Kekaulike and Maui high schools will hold assemblies to raise awareness about suicide prevention.

Similar events will be held on Molokai during the week to educate and raise awareness in the community.

Though Hawaii ranks 42nd nationally in its rate of suicide deaths, statistics show an increasing trend in the annual rate of suicide across the islands.

The most common means of suicide in Hawaii was by hanging or suffocation (49 percent), followed by firearm use (20 percent), poisoning (14 percent) and jumps from high places (10 percent).

In the United States, one suicide occurs every 15 minutes, with about 900,000 Americans attempting suicide every year. It is the third-leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year-olds.

“Regardless of the motivation behind it, suicide is the most extreme case of self-harm,” said state Department of Health suicide prevention coordinator Nancy Kern. “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.”

For more information about suicide prevention on Maui, contact Jeny Bissell at 984-2136 or