May 1st – In Memoriam: Charles “Chucky” Sakai Mental Health Hero

Charles Sakai 2011 Mental Health Hero Cartoon-A-Thon by Chato Stewart

We start off this year’s Cartoon-A-Thon in Memoriam for one of last year’s Mental Health Heroes, Charles “Chucky” Sakais. Charles Mitsuo Sakai died on January 25, 2012 in Aurora, Colorado. He was 63 and had a very advanced form of cancer.

I met Charles who let me affectionately call him “Chucky” at the DBSA 2011 conference. We were both part of David Granirer’s Stand-Up For Mental Health comedy show. (See his act below.)

You should remember Chucky as one of our Mental Health Heroes. What a hero he was…Always willing to go the extra mile in his advocacy for mental health! I was happy to meet up with him again at Alternatives in Orlando and give him the caricature original.

I’ll miss you my friend – sleep in peace. A hui hou kakou


In his own words:

“My mental health journey began in the mists of history, back in the day when Freudian psychoanalysis was the leading form of therapy, mental hospitals were used as a threat to keep children in line, and effective psychotropic medications were few and far between. When one of my sisters committed suicide in 1971, it became a wake-up call for me. Over the years I pieced together our family’s pattern of depression and bipolar disorder from relatives who were most unwilling to even talk about the subject, learned everything I could about human psychology, and was confined to a psychiatric ward twice before doctors arrived at a diagnosis and started doing something about my chronic depression. Now it appears my life’s work is to continue the ongoing process of recovery, advocate for the mentally ill, and offer a helping hand to my peers, to include veterans and homeless people. My belief system dictates that we are accountable to God if we neglect those who are less fortunate than ourselves.”

Charles M. Sakai

Colorado Springs, CO

From The DBSA Colorado Springs Newsletter

Memorial Services

Memorial services for Charles will be held at DBSA’s Faces of Recovery program on Saturday, May 5, at 1:00 PM and the family held a service in Oahu, Hawaii at the Punchbowl National Memorial Center on Friday, March 30, 2012.

Charles Sakai of Colorado Springs succumbed to previously undiagnosed advanced pancreatic and liver cancer at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, Colorado on January 25, 2012. He was 63. Charles lived in Colorado Springs for over 20 years and was actively involved in community service, especially on behalf of military veterans, mental health education, advocacy, and grassroots politics.

Charles was born May 22, 1948 in Ewa, Hawaii. With his life-long love of learning, he graduated from the University of Hawaii with a BA in History (1970) and a Masters in Library Science (1971) as well as a BS in Business Management from Denver Technical College (2003).

A proud veteran of the U.S. Army, Charles served from 1981 to 1998 in active duty as an imagery analyst assigned to various levels of Intelligence units. He was stationed in South Korea and Wiesbaden, Germany, was a veteran of Operation Desert Storm, and received an honorable discharge.

As an advocate for people who suffered from mental illness, Charles worked tirelessly with the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) of Colorado Springs, serving as an officer of its chapter board. As editor of its newsletter, he was known for his extensive research and brilliant writing. He facilitated countless support group meetings and was an active participant and leader in many mental health community outreach activities. Charles was a co-founder of the state organization of DBSA and its BrainStorm Career Services program.

Charles was a certified peer specialist. He served on the Colorado Mental Health Planning and Advisory Council representing DBSA Colorado Springs and the Veterans Mental Health Council of Southern Colorado as secretary, advocating for better behavioral health care for military veterans. To honor his service, the latter group has recently renamed itself the Charles Sakai Veterans Mental Health Council of Southern Colorado.

Charles was instrumental in the formation of several initiatives serving Veterans with mood disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder; including a DBSA Veterans support group and a life recovery class series at the local VA mental health clinic. A self -described ‘community volunteer addict’, he also served on two committees that helped launch efforts to establish a Mental Health Court in El Paso County.

Charles Sakai dearly loved his family in Hawaii and his many friends and colleagues in Colorado. A brilliant, energetic man, Charles enjoyed serving others, encouraging and empowering them to learn, grow, and succeed in life.

Contributions in Charles’ memory may be made to DBSA Colorado Springs, 2132 E. Bijou St, Suite 112, Colorado Springs, CO 80909, or to support the memorial service in Oahu, please send a gift to Charles’ nephew, Troy Lynch, 1687-A Kalauokala-ni Way, #125, Honolulu, HI 96814-3721


“Just because you’re offended doesn’t mean you’re in the right.” – Ricky

“Bloodthirsty Warmonger” blog (politics/toilet lore) “Up and Down Time” blog (psychology)


Bonus Drawing from my 8yr old Precious:


+6 Enzymedica the enzyme experts Mental Health Humor Project - Cartoon-A-thon 2010 The haven Drop In Center Florida Peer network Mental Health Humor Project - Cartoon-A-thon 2012 Facebook BG - Mental Health Hero 2012 newsletter going lime copy copy Mental Health Humor Project - Cartoon-A-thon 2010 CBHC

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