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Bring suicide conversation out of shadows

Updated: 
September 12, 2017 - 12:05am

My name is Zahava Zaidoff, I am a 39-year-old wife and mother, and I tried to kill myself. I am a survivor of a suicide attempt, sexual trauma, emotional abuse, meth addiction and alcoholism. Why do I share this with you? Why should you care?

Hawaii Island has the highest rate of suicide of all the Hawaiian islands: 96.1 people per 100,000 people.

There is no accurate count of those who attempt suicide. No accurate count of those who engage in self-harm. No accurate count of those who are being emotionally, sexually and physically abused. No accurate count of those living as slaves to addiction. No accurate count of those living with mental illness.

Our people are feeling so hopeless as a result of many of these issues, that death feels like the only option for them. Can you imagine feeling that hopeless? We are responsible.

Why are you not aware of this? It’s not your fault; it’s our fault. We don’t discuss these things. We keep secrets. We whisper in the shadows, but don’t let the light shine on these issues.

When principals discourage students from reporting rape, when parents refuse to share with counselors the trauma their children have experienced out of fear of being judged, when people lie about the death of loved ones because it’s easier to share about a dead relative than a mentally ill one, when we wish our friends had cancer instead of addiction because it would be easier to explain, we have a problem. A huge problem.

Will you join me in creating change? Will you bring these conversations out of the shadows? Will you commit to being a bearer of hope?

Can you pick one of these actions and commit to following through, so we can save our community?

Take a training. Smile at your homeless neighbor. Volunteer. Sponsor a child in an extracurricular activity. Hold the sacred space for a friend to share honestly. Listen. Really listen.

There is no choice without awareness and no freedom without whoice.

Zahava Zaidoff is certified substance abuse counselor andprevention specialist.

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