Sep 16, 2016
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Suicide Prevention Month: How to Get Help or Help a Friend

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September is in full swing! Can you believe we only have one more week until it’s officially Fall? September is always an exciting month: hanging out with new classmates, maybe watching football with friends, and finally having your locker combination memorized! While all these things make September great, this month is especially important for one more reason. It’s National Suicide Prevention Month!

Talking about suicide and mental illness can feel uncomfortable. We totally get it. But for the 42,773 Americans that die each year from suicide, we can’t (and more importantly, shouldn’t) ignore it. Suicide is not simple by any means, and the more we talk about it, the more we can help our friends and family be open to disclose their suicidal or self-harming thoughts. A common misconception is that there is one “cause” for suicide. There are warning signs, sure, but those don’t necessarily cause suicide. Psychiatric illness is a possible cause for suicidal thoughts/attempts, yet so many in our society view it as a choice- a weakness. However, for people suffering from a mental illness, such as depression, the choice is just as much a choice as waking up one day and deciding to have a sinus infection. There are many factors that contribute to suicide, and the bottom line is this:

                No one should ever be made to feel like they are weak or burdensome for feeling depressed or having suicidal thoughts.

Is this affecting us here in Hawai’i? Yes! In fact, one person in Hawaii dies every two days from suicide. Among people ages 15-34, it’s the second leading cause of death-- leading! That means it affects too many young people in our beautiful state.


Sometimes it can feel difficult to know how to ask for help- whether for yourself or for a friend. Maybe you want to help, but don’t know how, or maybe you know how to help, but you’re afraid. Either way, no worries- we are here to offer guidance in whatever you need. Check out the tabs below for more information on how to help a friend or yourself:

  • Looking for a way to kill oneself
  • Talking about wanting to die
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol and drugs
  • Acting anxious, agitated, or reckless
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings
  • Giving away valuable/meaningful possessions
  • Creating a plan for suicide


The more of these signs a person shows, the greater the risk. Warning signs are associated with suicide, but may not be what causes a suicide.

*Many mahalos to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention for the information!

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What should you do if you need help? The first step is to reach out. Here are some options:

  • Talk to a friend, parent, or teacher and ask for help
  • Call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255)
  • Text the Crisis Text Line. Text START to 741-741.
  • LGBTQ+ can choose to contact the Trevor Project Lifeline at 866-488-7386 or text TREVOR to 1-202-304-1200 on Thursdays and Fridays from 10am-2pm HST.

Most importantly, be proud of yourself for having the courage to ask for help!

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You're a great friend for wanting to reach out. Here are a few ways to help someone you are concerned about:

  • Be there for them, physically and emotionally
  • Don't make them feel ashamed
  • Understand that recovery is a process and doesn't happen overnight
  • Encourage them to seek professional help
  • Ask them how you can help make their environment safer
  • Offer to compile some resources for them to get help
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Remember that suicide prevention is a community effort! If we pay attention and take care of each other, life is a whole lot sweeter.

"Everybody paddle together; bail and paddle; bail and paddle; and the shore is reached."

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