Pre­vent­ing sui­cide to­gether


West Hawaii Today - - Front Page - BY RICK WIN­TERS rwin­ters@west­hawai­ito­

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.pre­ventsui­ and

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.

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