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Opinion

Steps, strategies to prevent suicide on college campuses

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February 21, 2013

This is a very serious, but necessary topic: suicide prevention.

Sadly, many college students do attempt suicide each year. I myself have gone through long talks with friends and acquaintances about their own thoughts of the idea, and tried to convince them it’s not worth it. I’ve even been through the painful funerals of some really close friends. Lots of people have, and it’s sad situation no one should have to go through.

Helping to make students more aware of people around them, or just their friends can help make so much more of a difference in that persons life. According to save.org, a suicide awareness site, there are nearly 30,000 suicide related deaths each year in America. Sadly for young people between the ages of 15-24, suicide is the leading cause of death. The one fact I want to get across to everyone reading is that many who attempt suicide never seek professional care.

There are things that we as friends, co-workers or teachers can do to help though. There are symptoms and signs we can look for or notice in their day-to-day activity. Obviously a major one to look out for is talking about wanting to die or take their own life. Second, if they talk about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live, feeling trapped or burdened. Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs, and sleeping too much or too little.

Lastly I will say one that even I was surprised to find out. It’s that if their behavior is new or they seem suddenly happier or calm, those are other things that we as friends can be aware of and do our best to take action upon.

UW-River Falls has a great counseling program, having experienced it myself and from the feedbacks I hear from friends, I would recommend them for any issues you might be going through. From stress, to relationships, to deaths and so much more the Student Health and Counseling Services is great. They are located in 211 Hagestad Hall and they are open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday – Friday. You can even make an appointment to schedule brief meetings by calling 715-425-3884. The best thing about this amazing resource provided to students is that it’s free.

The only way to make suicide prevention work is by educating the public to make everyone more aware. If you know someone who is suicidal, just begin by asking them basic questions like, “Do you ever feel so badly that you think about suicide?” and go from there. Ask if they have a plan or if they’ve thought about how they would go about it. I know it can be scary to talk about, let along bringing it up, but by asking these questions you can determine if the person you know needs immediate help or if you should have them reach out to a professional. Two basic rules to follow:

1. Never keep a plan for suicide a secret, meaning don’t worry about risking a friendship if you truly feel a life is in danger.

2. Don’t try to minimize problems, or in simpler terms your opinion of a persons suicide is irrelevant. Trying to convince someone suffering with a mental illness that it’s not that bad, or they have everything to live for may only make feeling of guilt or hopelessness worse.

Just reassure them that help is available and that these feelings are only temporary. I know life can be hard, and stress from school, work, friends and relationships can be hard, but if you have suicidal thoughts or you are depressed I encourage you to seek help from a professional. We all have our rough days, but remember mama said there would be days like this.

Miranda Hammel is a journalism major. She enjoys reading, writing, listening to music, and being active outdoors.