Insight, News, and Opinion by Nick Abramo
  • April 13, 2021
There Are Better Answers Than Suicide, Pearl City Football Player’s Family And Friends Reflect

Editor’s note: This story was written as a reminder to those seeking help that coping skills, support, and treatment work for most people who have thoughts about suicide, which is a serious public health issue.

Joshua Amina was a Pearl City High School student, football player and soon-to-be dad. He was loved dearly by friends and family.

But Joshua Amina is not here now. It’s been more than a year since he committed suicide in May 2019, and it shook up those he loved, leaving a giant-sized hole in their hearts. His mother, Cheryl Amina, opened up about her ordeal. She was left heartbroken and wondering why.

“Joshua still lives on,” she said. “His son (was born months later) and we still have all of his memories.”

The Hurt Is Real And Very Deep

Joshua’s best friend, Maddox Kainuma, reflected on his quality time spent with Joshua.

“He was like a brother because ever since I was young, Pop Warner, elementary, we were always playing,” Kainuma said. “Like some of my family wouldn’t come, (but) his family, his mom and dad would always be there making sure I’m good, taking care of me, so like I saw him as a brother personally.

“And yeah, we drifted throughout high school and intermediate because he moved to Kapolei, but right when he came back (to Pearl City High) you know we clicked as always because that brotherhood, it never left us. That bond never left. So, when it happened, it hurt all of us, but in a sense, it hurt me really deep because I never had a friend that close to me pass. So, I just had to get used to it.”

Maddox Kainuma, left, sorely misses his close friend, Joshua Amina. (Photos are courtesy of Cheryl Amina.)

Kainuma was a teammate of Amina’s on the Pearl City JV squad in 2018. Amina was going to play for the varsity in ’19.

Both the Chargers’ JV and varsity teams dedicated their 2019 seasons to Amina, and his No. 35 jersey was carried to the coin flip before games and through the handshake line after games. In addition, the players had a No. 35 decal on the back of their helmets and wore a dry-fit T-shirt with Joshua’s name on it under their jerseys.

During that ’19 season, the Pearl City football teams had bonding activities that helped the players know that support is all around them.

“We have a strong support system because we actually have a lot of teachers helping out as well, as well as alumni parents,” Kainuma said at the time. “They are there to let us know that if we are going through anything, we can call them and they’ll be there.”

On the Internet, friends posted touching tribute videos and wrote and played songs about Amina called “All I Need” and “Slowly Failing.”

“When I look at those videos, I just cry,” Cheryl Amina said. “It’s so hard for me to look at.”

The beginning of “Slowly Failing” has these spoken lines:

“So, ah, I heard you’re gone
Like I don’t, hah, why?
There’s nothing to explain, but
I just can’t have a better feeling without you, bro
You got so many, like, people worried about you
It’s like a constant pain because
Everybody is trying to move on,
but It’s, like, hard, you’re everything to us
We love you, Josh”

All of these tributes are from those who sorely miss Joshua as a person and not meant to glorify his decision.

Life IS NOT BETTER Without You

Cheryl Amina had no idea how deep Joshua’s pain inside must have been.

“I didn’t think anything was wrong with my son,” she said. “Honestly. Obviously there was. He hid it really well. He had lots of friends. If anything was wrong, I didn’t know. I didn’t know what my son was going through. Parents aren’t the ones (children in pain) want to talk to. I’m learning that sometimes they don’t want to talk to friends and counselors, either. If I knew anything was wrong with my son, I would have done anything I could have for him.

“We’re left with a hole in our hearts right now. (He might have) thought that life is better without him. All I can say is it isn’t. There is support out there. The (mental health crisis) hotline number is 808-832-3100. I know that that local number will answer faster than the national line. Suicide is not the only option. There is help. Think about everyone who loves you. You can’t think life will be better without you.

“Suicide does not discriminate,” she added.

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