Preventing suicide together
BENEFIT RAISES AWARENESS, PROVIDES SAFE PLACE FOR THOSE WHO HAVE LOST TO COME TOGETHER
KAILUA-KONA — Looking to bring awareness to a rising concern on the Big Island, the second annual Hawaii Island Suicide Prevention Task Force Benefit took place on Sunday at the Old Airport Park Pavilion.
Since 2014, suicide has been the No. 1 cause of injury death in Hawaii County and triggers can come from anywhere, including depression, the loss of a loved one, the loss of a relationship or even the loss of a job.
Sunday’s benefit looked to bring awareness to those thinking about committing suicide, letting them know that there are resources available. It also provided a safe place for those who have lost someone to come together and talk openly about their experiences and emotions.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to bring people together to talk about a
very difficult topic,” said Nancy Sallee, Hawaii Island Suicide Prevention Task Force West Hawaii chairperson. “Most people don’t want to talk about the problem and what we find is there are a lot of families out there with multiple suicides because they don’t talk.”
Sallee added that the problem is more widespread than people think, saying that she constantly hears about suicides in her line of work as a therapist at Orchid Isle Psychotherapy in Kealakekua.
“There are more people that die of suicide than both motor vehicle accidents and drownings,” she said. “It’s awful and it just breaks my heart.”
The benefit heavily emphasized communication between families as a way to identify problems early, we well as providing those left behind a place to talk and deal with their emotions after a suicide.
For Ihilani Demello, talking and being very open about suicide has helped her and her daughter, Loea Emina, deal with the loss of a loved one.
“I lost my ex (Ioane Emina), my daughter’s father, to suicide in 2010 and ever since then I have wanted to help bring awareness to the cause,” Demello said. “You never realize when you may be affected by it and when it happens, your life really does crumble.”
The loss was devastating to Demello, who suddenly found herself having to start anew with a daughter who would now be raised without her father.
“When it happened, Ioane was only 28 years old and my daughter was 7 years old,” Demello said. “We were just broken up. I had to pick up all the pieces of the life we did have and relearn how to create a new life.”
Demello said she was able to move on and build a new life with her daughter by never shutting the door to those around her.
“I was very open, talking about it and seeking counseling,” she said. “I never tried to sweep it under the rug. We had to make it the new normal and that is how we coped with it.”
The benefit also included speeches from state Reps. Richard Creagan, Nicole Lowen and Cindy Evans. Also featured was music, food and a silent auction.
Money raised goes to providing grants for families affected by suicide.
Hawaii suicide prevention resources can be accessed at www.preventsuicidekona.com and www.hispf.com.
Suicide access lines are available at (800)735-6879 and (808)832-3100.
Ihilani Demello looks at a memorial dedicated to those who were lost by suicide at the second annual Hawaii Island Suicide Prevention Task Force benefit held on Sunday in Kailua-Kona.
Attendees enjoy food during the second annual Hawaii Island Suicide Prevention Task Force Benefit.