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The Conversation

If You Know Someone Going Through a Crisis, There Are Ways to Help

Suicide prevention experts and survivors of suicide attempts say the best way to help someone at risk is to start a conversation about suicide and help the person find the right kind of help.

In Hawaiʻi, one person dies from suicide every two days, the Hawaiʻi Department of Health says.

Suicide is the leading cause of fatal injuries for those ages 15 to 64 and is the tenth leading cause of all deaths in the state, according to the department. From 2016 to 2020, 957 Hawaiʻi residents died from suicide.

For National Suicide Prevention Month, The Conversation spoke with DOH Suicide Prevention Coordinator Renee Yu. She underscored the importance of being aware and prepared during these COVID times where life stressors abound.

"When you think about prevention strategies, it's actually a lot broader than we can think of," Yu said. "It's suicide prevention by having housing stability policies. It's suicide prevention by people having good health insurance."

If you notice someone going through a crisis, Yu says there are ways to help.

"Asking somebody if they're thinking about suicide, if they're thinking about killing themselves, would not cause them to die from suicide. So sometimes just ask point-blank questions and stay with them," she said. "Know local resources — for example, Hawaiʻi Cares. Listen when people are sharing their stories and listen with intent. All these are very, very helpful. But it really is a very complex response."

An average suicidal crisis lasts about four minutes, according to national data, she said.

"If something can be done during that time, it could be a life that could be saved. And whatever we can do to get to the next window, that's a success," Yu told Hawaiʻi Public Radio.

Statewide events calling attention to this issue continue through the end of the month.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, here are some resources:

  • Hawaiʻi Cares: 1-800-753-6879
  • Crisis Text Line: Send "HOME" to 741741
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)
  • Have more questions? Head to the Department of Health's suicide prevention website.

This interview aired on The Conversation on Sept. 27, 2021.

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