Last month was National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Suicide is a critical issue in school communinites.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, one in five college students has thoughts of committing suicide.
This means that 67,000 students from more than 100 U.S. schools this past year have experienced thoughts of self harm.
Each year, nearly 45,000 Americans die of suicide, 51 percent of which are caused by firearms. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. and the 2nd leading cause in the state of Hawai‘i during adolescence.
According to former WCC mental health and wellness counselor Karla Silva-Park, there has recently been a high rate of suicide in LGBTQ communities.
On Sept. 15, Silva-Park, along with WCC counselors Jordan Lewton and Sylvia Carter, English instructor Annette Priesman and Upward Bound outreach specialist Makana Tani, participated in the Out of the Darkness Walk to support those affected by suicide and those who need the courage to seek help with prevention.
Organized locally at Magic Island by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Hawai‘i chapter, the local walk is part of a movement of community walks that collectively attract 250,000 people nationwide.
Families impacted by suicide represented their loved ones on t-shirts as they walked together.
Around 20 different local agencies such as Mental Health America and the state Department of Education participated in a resource fair after the walk. Paul Mitchell Schools also joined the fair, offering quick hair trims and a makeup booth for those wanting a new look after the walk.
The WCC contingent with Silva-Park raised nearly $250 on GoFundMe for the walk. The campaign will remain open until December.
WCC is actively looking for a new mental health and wellness counselor although Silva-Park is still available for those in need of mindful words or help. She can be contacted at 235-7468.
Resources on how to help those contemplating suicide can be found at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention website at afsp.org and at SuicidePreventionLifeline.org. The Lifeline also provides free, 24/7 confidential support at 1-800-273-8255.
by Antonia Gary, Ka ‘Ohana Staff Reporter