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National Suicide Prevention Day

You may or may not have known, but this past Sunday was National Suicide Prevention Day. Though social media often makes it seem like every day is a national-something-day, this cause should stand out among many if not most of them. Taking on a more serious tone, I think it’s so important for us to sit down and talk about issues like suicide and depression – because starting the conversation is the first step to eliminating any stigma that surrounds these tough and touchy topics, especially in our society today.

The HPU Public Health Club was among many of the community organizations that came out to show support for, bring awareness to and promote suicide prevention last Saturday, September 9 at the 5th Annual Out of The Darkness Walk at Ala Moana/Magic Island Beach Park. This annual walk is put together by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Hawaii Chapter and ultimately aims to unify those affected by depression and suicide while creating a safe space for healing and comfort. As a first-time participant/walker at this event, it was most interesting for me to see the variety of organizations and groups there, and it filled me with a sense of pride that our little club was representing a part of HPU. A role as small as showing up and walking in the event might seem insignificant on the surface level, but it really goes deeper than that.

By being present at the event, understanding the cause, taking pictures and posting/sharing them on social media – we are contributing deeper to the conversation that surrounds these topics. Suicide and depression are highly stigmatized in certain cultures and societies because of the nature of mental disorders and illnesses, and that is where we fail our friends, family members, and communities as a whole. People are afraid to reach out and ask for help when they don’t have support systems ready to accept them and understand them. That being said, depression and suicide are two issues that are worsened by choosing to ignore them or look the other way.

As a public health student and as a general human being, I encourage my HPU community to destigmatize depression and suicide by educating yourself and those around you, connecting with people who might’ve been affected, and empathizing with everyone as much as you can – not just on National Suicide Prevention Day but every day. Our small roles can be felt as big impacts when we let the small acts of kindness add up.

If you want more information on the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention you can find them here: https://afsp.org/

Michelle Ann is in her fourth year of college at Hawai'i Pacific University, getting her Bachelor's of Science in Public Health. Between school, her 2 jobs and internship, you can find her burried in a new book (sometimes two at a time), beach lounging and sitcom show binging. Michelle loves consuming good music, great movies, and the internet. 
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