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Mental health problems and suicide

Hawaii: Mental health challenges

In the state of Hawaii, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders have the highest rates of suicide. Hawaiian youth, especially females, appear to be at high risk of mental health disorders. Visit the mental health section of womenshealth.gov to learn the symptoms of these and other mental illnesses and how to get help.

Money problems, health problems, and the loss of loved ones are all sources of stress, worry, and sadness. During stressful times, feeling sad, worried, or anxious for a little while is normal. But it's not normal to feel this way a lot of the time. Ongoing feelings of sadness and numbness can be signs of depression. Constant worrying that won't go away can be a sign of an anxiety disorder. These feelings are not just "in your head" or a sign of weakness. Mental health problems, such as anxiety and mood disorders, are real illnesses, just like diabetes or heart disease. They can cause changes in your brain and body chemistry. Yet unlike most disabling physical illnesses, mental illness often begins early in life. The sooner a mental health problem is discovered, the better the chance for a full recovery.

Getting help for mental health problems can be a challenge for Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders. Language barriers, cultural differences, and poverty all play a part in this lack of access. Yet, getting help is important. Our limited knowledge of the mental health needs of Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders may also play a role.

Remember: Mental illnesses are real, and treatment can help. If emotional problems are interfering with work, school, relationships, or home life, see a doctor.

If you have thoughts of hurting or killing yourself, get medical help right away. Call 911, 800-SUICIDE, or 800-273-TALK (8255), or check in your phone book for the number of a suicide crisis center.

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Content last updated: May 18, 2010.

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