Mālama Ola Minute: Supporting suicide prevention this September

Sept. 5, 2023

As we enter September, we recognize Suicide Prevention Month, a critical time to come together and support one another's mental well-being. At Kamehameha Schools, our commitment to fostering a safe and caring community is stronger than ever. This month, we want to focus on suicide prevention and offer valuable tips and resources to help us be there for others during challenging times.

Open Communication
Take time to connect with your children, ask how they're feeling, and actively listen to their concerns. This could mean being physically present for your keiki, talking story with them when you have some down time, or any other way that shows support. It is important to encourage open and honest communication – and connect them to the appropriate resources and support if needed.

Being there for someone with thoughts or at risk of suicide is life-saving. Increasing someone’s connectedness to others and limiting their isolation (both in the short and long-term) has shown to be a protective factor against suicide.

If you suspect someone you know may be feeling suicidal, don't hesitate to ask directly “Are you thinking about suicide?” This communicates that you’re open to speaking about suicide in a non-judgmental and supportive way. Asking in this direct, unbiased manner, can open the door for honest dialogue  and can allow everyone involved to see what next steps need to be taken. Do not promise to keep their thoughts of suicide a secret.

The flip side of the “Ask” step is to “Listen.” Make sure you take their responses seriously and not to ignore them, especially if they indicate they are experiencing thoughts of suicide.

Studies show that asking at-risk individuals if they are suicidal does not increase suicides or suicidal thoughts. In fact, studies suggest the opposite: findings suggest acknowledging and talking about suicide may in fact reduce rather than increase suicidal ideation.

Help them Connect
Helping our youth with thoughts of suicide connect with immediate supports (like the 988 Lifeline) can help them establish a safety net for those moments they find themselves in a crisis. Additional components of a safety net – if it’s not an urgent crisis, might be connecting your keiki with supports and resources in their communities or schools.

Let's stand together as a community, promoting mental health and well-being for our children and teens. By being proactive, informed, and compassionate, we can create a supportive environment that fosters hope, resilience, and connectedness.

Read more

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): NAMI provides comprehensive resources for mental health support, including information on suicide prevention. www.nami.org

Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Hawaiʻi CARES 988 offers a free crisis, mental health and substance use call center. They provide confidential support 24/7 for individuals in distress, whether urgent or non-urgent support. Call, text or chat 988 or visit https://hicares.hawaii.gov

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP): AFSP is dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education, and advocacy. www.afsp.org

Mental Health America of Hawaii: Mental Health America of Hawaii has been Hawaii’s leading mental health education and advocacy organization. https://mentalhealthhawaii.org/