“Take a Minute, Change a Life” was the theme of the 2017 World Suicide Prevention Day.
Every year on Sept. 10, thousands of people participate in spreading awareness about suicide in an attempt to prevent people from ending their lives.
Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in America.
“We haven’t gotten any serious attempts this year,” said Detective James Taylor, speaking of Troy University. “There have been about three calls made because the students were having suicidal thoughts, but they didn’t harm themselves.
“While there is a protocol that has to be followed, we usually try to calm the person making the phone call.”
Even though there haven’t been any successful suicide attempts within the university, there have been several other cases outside campus.
“We have lost a few students and even an alumni member to suicide,” said Fran Scheel, a counselor at the Student Counseling Center, where about 80 students visit every month.
Roughly one out of every four of those visitors admits to having suicidal thoughts. A number this high denotes that mental health is a serious issue within the university.
The main causes of depression and suicide among college students are stress, anxiety, loneliness, financial stress, relationship issues, drug and alcohol abuse, cyberbullying and family problems, according to Scheel and Parks-Orendorff.
Withdrawal from friends and family, increased use of alcohol and drugs, sleeping too much or sleeping too little, sudden change in appetite, reckless behavior, extreme mood swings, agitated behavior and lack of energy are all signs of suicidal behaviors in an individual.
The main sign of suicidal intent is just talking about suicide and saying that life doesn’t make any sense anymore, according to Scheel. When a person starts talking about suicide, immediate steps must be taken.
“Instead of being direct to a suicidal person, you should try expressing your concern to them,” said Jean Parks-Orendorff, a psychology lecturer.
“Use sentiments like ‘I feel like you have been upset and maybe we should go to a counselor and see if that will help,’ rather than saying, ‘You seem upset and should see a counselor,’” Parks-Orendorff said. “A direct confrontation can act as a trigger to the person and end up harming them.
“Never take it lightly. When you see the symptoms, act on it. A simple gesture that you put out can save someone’s life.”
Parks-Orendorff has spent many years as a counselor. According to her, cyberbullying is the main cause of college students’ depression and suicidal thoughts.
According to Scheel, the most common mistake people make is thinking that they can help the person on their own. While being there for someone who is contemplating suicide can comfort and help them, a serious condition like that must be dealt with by professionals.
It’s a huge responsibility, and a small mistake can lead to the loss of a life, she said.
Another mistake people make is thinking that when a person starts feeling better, the problem has been solved.
However, it is usually when the person starts feeling better that they have the energy to act upon any sort of trigger that can push them to kill themselves.
According to Scheel, one of the main reason students don’t reach out to the counseling center is that they think that admitting to having suicidal thoughts will get them immediately sent to the hospital.
“There are certain protocols that we take depending on the severity of the situation,” Scheel added. “We respect the privacy of the student and don’t involve anyone else unless it is absolutely necessary.”
“It is OK not to feel OK all the time, and there is nothing embarrassing in admitting that you need help,” Scheel said. She encourages everyone to visit the Student Counseling Center if they feel like they or someone they know needs help.
Located right off campus, the Student Counseling Center provides free, confidential and private sessions to students of the university.
If you or someone you know seems to be in a danger of harming themselves, please visit the counseling center or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.
Suicide is preventable, and a simple gesture can save someone’s life.