I applaud those on Maui who gave suicide a voice and attention during Suicide Prevention Week.
In a culture that is death-phobic, where talking about death is considered morbid, where the D-word and especially suicide are met with aversion, denial and avoidance, death becomes part of society's shadow. Two places this shows up is our fascination with horror, violence and death in movies and in our extreme sports hobbies.
Historically, cultures have included initiatory rituals to make and mark the turning of children into adults. These rituals usually included a close encounter with death. In our culture, with no true initiatory ritual and where death is often hidden away or cosmetic-ized, young people can't help but act out this fascination and shadow.
Young people, especially those feeling powerless, those with low self-esteem, those feeling marginalized by society, emotionally unstable, depressed by a relationship breakup or the state of the world, may find suicide an attractive option.
Isolation, either real or imagined, heightens these feelings, and isolation causes us not to care or consider how our actions will affect our family, friends and community.
Our responsibility as a community is to make sure young people are valued, respected and included. That requires attention, love and real communication.