Information should help prevent suicide
A two-day conference in Waikiki was conducted to help prevent suicide.
MOST suicides go unreported by the media out of respect for privacy, so the high occurrence of people taking their own lives is surprising to many people. A two-day conference last week was a needed step to spread information and increase suicide prevention.
In Hawaii, a suicide occurs an average of once every three days, a rate that nears motor vehicle fatalities as the state's leading cause of death by injury. An additional 870 people a year are hospitalized in the state after attempting to take their own lives.
Individuals from the public and private sectors, including a survivor, formed a committee two years ago to serve in an advisory role to the state Department of Health. A task force was launched last year to accelerate the activity, including planning last week's first Suicide Prevention Conference in Waikiki attended by more than 200 people.
Depression, anxiety, anger, reckless behavior and increased alcohol or drug use are among the warning signs. A significant factor may be a family's history of suicides.
Dr. Chiyome Fukino, the state's director of health, recalled her shock when her husband's adult son committed suicide. Then, two-and-a-half years later, his adult daughter decided to take her own life.
Studies in recent years have confirmed what had been long suspected: Suicide can run in the family. A Danish study in 2002 found that those with a family history of suicide are two-and-a-half times more likely to take their own lives than those without such a history.
Research published three months ago in the American Journal of Psychiatry suggested links of high-suicide families with mental illness combined with tendencies of "impulsive aggressiveness." Dr. David Brent, the study's lead author, said the next step is to identify genes that dictate such aggression.
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