Out of the Darkness
By Sage Yamashita | Intern Reporter
As the sun reached the horizon on Sep. 25, Molokai’s community members shone a light on suicide prevention and awareness as they walked down Kaunakakai Wharf with colorful beads around their necks and signs in their hands.
Out of the Darkness is an event put on each year by American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). Molokai Representative for AFSP, U’ilani Kiaha, said this is the first unofficial event for Molokai.
The event was held at Molokai Canoe Club, where the event opened with a sense of knowledge and open-mindedness carried in by oli, E Hō Mai, and pule. Affected and supporting community members gathered in a circle and shared their reasons for being present through a bead ceremony.
“Each bead color represents something, like struggling with or you’ve lost someone to suicide,” said Kiaha. “Whether that your spouse or sibling parent or friend or maybe you’re just an advocate, or you support suicide prevention, awareness, LGBTQ plus. There are many different ways each of us are touched by suicide and different ways that we can all kind of grieve but also find support.”
Attendees walked down Kaunakakai Wharf with remembrance, hope and support. Each affected and supporting person walked laps of the wharf to raise awareness. In their hands, they carried encouraging and informational signs created by youth in Lamaku Club at Molokai High School over the last three years. Youth presence was felt at the event side from the sign creations. Molokai High’s Cheer Squad joined the event as they acknowledged the importance of having the right resources and creating a safe space for their peers.
“I’d like to see in the future that our youth be educated and aware and share awareness. I think youth are powerful, and they can be a means of change in our community,” said Kiaha.
Concluding the event, participants released flowers into the ocean and blew bubbles into the air towards the colors of the sunset. This created a moment to remember those who have passed and those who have struggled but have been able to stay strong.
“For people that want to help…” said Kiaha, “it’s really important to let others know we hear them and we are here for them. You don’t have to be a counselor yourself to support someone.”
Text “aloha” to 741741 crisis text line and a trained crisis counselor will respond to you.
You can also call Hawaii CARES at 1-800-753-6879 if you are having thoughts of suicide or going through challenging times. Hawaii CARES provides a team of trained and experienced professionals to help individuals in times of a mental health crisis, available 24/7, free of charge.
If you are experiencing an emergency or believe you are a danger to yourself or others, please call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room for immediate assistance.