The Hawaii Legislature on Monday sent to Gov. David Ige’s desk two bills intended to help bring down suicide rates.

House Bill 655 makes September “Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month” to promote public awareness of suicide prevention and education, resources and available support.

House Bill 330 appropriates $150,000 to the Department of Health to support youth suicide early intervention, prevention and education initiatives in all counties. The focus is on youth between the ages of 10 through 24.

Rep Nadine Nakamura. New lawmaker during joint WAM and Finance committee meeting. Capitol. 5 jan 2017
Rep. Nadine Nakamura in 2017. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2017

“Suicide was the leading cause of injury-related deaths for Hawaii youth from 2013 to 2017,” said Rep. Nadine Nakamura (Hanalei, Princeville, Kilauea, Anahola, Kapaa, Wailua). “Suicide rates are higher among young people, especially from the neighbor islands and rural communities, and alarmingly high among Hawaiʻi’s LGBTQ youth.”

On Oahu, 66 youth for every 100,000 people die as a result of suicide, according to a task force. On Maui it is 86 per 100,000, on Kauai it is 92 and on Hawaii Island it is 117.

“We must de-stigmatize conversations around mental health, and provide residents in all communities, and especially on neighbor islands and in rural areas, the health support services they need,” said Sen. Rosalyn H. Baker (South and West Maui), Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection, and Health.

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