Preventing Bullying And Suicide

By Marya Grambs, executive director, Mental Health America of Hawaii

Hawaii has staggering rates of depression and suicide among our middle and high school youths.

In fact, the number of young people age 15-24 in the state who have killed themselves has more than doubled in the last four years. We have the distinction of having one of the highest rates in the nation of suicidal middle and high school students.


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Marya Grambs

Mental Health America of Hawaii’s (MHA-Hawaii) program Stop Youth Suicide and Bullying has trained more than 11,000 youths – and the adults who work with them – about how to prevent suicide and bullying. MHA-Hawaii also offers a daily help line.

Bullying and cyberbullying are so pervasive and hurtful that one out of 15 students – two in each classroom – missed a day of school during the previous month because they felt unsafe at or on their way to school.

Lesbian, gay and bisexual youths are bullied at shockingly higher rates – they are cyberbullied twice as often as heterosexual youths.

Young people who are bullied are more likely to be depressed, lonely, fearful, anxious and have low self-esteem. Some have nightmares and suffer from sleeplessness. Some stay home from school. Some think about suicide.

Recently, there have been numerous high-profile instances in which young people who have been bullied or cyberbullied have killed themselves.

It’s happened on the Mainland.

It’s happened in Hawaii. MHA-Hawaii now is training people to become suicide and bullying prevention educators, as well as training organizations about how to provide safe and supportive spaces for lesbian/gay/bisexual youths.

Other programs that MHA-Hawaii offers include Invisible Children, which generates support for children who have a parent with mental illness; Live Your Life Well, which aims to reduce stress at the workplace; and POWER Up, which assists homeless female veterans in obtaining employment.

On May 15, Mental Health America of Hawaii holds its eighth annual Mental Health Mahalo Awards Luncheon, which celebrates six outstanding community leaders – unsung heroes who have dedicated themselves to making life better for people with mental health challenges … Because there is no health without mental health.

This luncheon is a moving and inspiring way to support MHA-Hawaii’s programs. To learn more, call 521-1846 or visit

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