Hawaii: Don’t Wait For Death By Suicide

HONOLULU, HI (STL.News) Four Hawaii attorneys died by suicide in 2018, a startling revelation which happened to coincide with the National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being issuing its report on how ?the legal profession can better care for their own.

“The practice of law is stressful, with constant deadlines, keeping up with changes in the laws, financial pressures, and taking care of our families, too,” said ?attorney Louise Ing, Co-Chair of the Hawai`i Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being, which was convened by Chief Justice Mark Recktenwald.  “Our profession has seen the effects of dealing with mental health issues.  We have to get better at caring for the well-being of our colleagues.”

The Hawaii Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being is partnering with the Hawaii State Bar Association to implement the recommendations issued in June.

It asked Kathleen Pulama Rhoads Merriam, Mental Health Supervisor at Windward Oahu Community Mental Health Center, to provide guidance to attorneys on how to spot someone in distress, how to talk about what they are feeling, how to listen, and then get the person the help they need.

“We have to get past the sigma of mental health issues, which is difficult in our profession where you are judged on being strong, confident, and competent,” said ?Associate Justice Sabrina McKenna, Co-Chair of the Hawai`i Task Force. “Everyone needs help from time to time, so it’s important to make it easier to ask for and accept help from our colleagues, families, and friends.”