September is national suicide prevention awareness month and this week (Sept 10 – 16) was national suicide prevention week.
While the topics of depression and suicide are often difficult to discuss, it unfortunately is not uncommon among school age children. In 2015, 29.5% of high school students in Hawaiʻi surveyed reported feeling sad or hopeless, 16% seriously considered suicide, and 10.5% attempted suicide. These rates are slightly above the national average. For native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, the rates were even higher with 14.4% reporting having attempted suicide.
A recent study in the Canadian Journal of Public Health highlighted that “a growing body of research argues that conventional interventions, largely rooted in Western individual-level behavioral change frameworks, are culturally discordant with Indigenous paradigms. In response, some Indigenous communities are turning to cultural revitalization as a holistic community-driven response to suicide prevention and treatment.”
The study also examined the idea of “culture as treatment” and the “revitalization of traditional values to reclaim community wellness.”
Research that highlights the impact of identity on well-being, further reaffirms why it is important to move forward on cultivating a strong Native Hawaiian identity to instill confidence and resiliency in our learners.
If you have concerns that your friend, your child or even you yourself may be depressed, there are a number resources available to seek help.
For KS students, we encourage you to bring any concerns to your or your childʻs po‘okumu, hope po‘okumu or outreach counselor. Kamehameha Schools also has the Hiʻikua Student Helpline, where concerns can be anonymously reported by calling 1-844-284-2640 or filling out a report on ksbe.edu/hiikua.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has a number of tools and resources on how we can spread awareness about suicide prevention and mental health, and save lives. Visit https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/participate/ for more information on how you can #BeThe1To.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention also lists six things to consider when talking with someone who may be struggling with depression or anxiety.
If a person says they are considering suicide:
As it is with most issues, awareness of what you can do for yourself or others is critical in preventing this tragic loss of life. Please take a moment to share this with your friends and family and together we can help fight suicide.
Prescribed Reading is a column in which academic research and topics related to health and safety will be presented for reference. The articles are curated by Mālama Ola director Dr. Kenny Fink and presented with information on why the topic is important to you and your keiki. See more on the I Mua Newsroom Columns page.