By Kathryn Kelman/editor-in-chief
From Anthony Bourdain to Kate Spade, 2018 hasn’t been short on stories that draw attention to the epidemic of suicide in society.
September will once again draw focus to the topic as the month is recognized as National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month, and a number of events have been planned across the district to educate students, direct them to resources and combat stigmas.
While the events across each campus are different, organizers hope to reduce stigmas and encourage individuals to access mental health assistance.
“It shows in the research that education and awareness around the topic is one key factor in helping to prevent suicide,” said South student development associate Amanda Sims.
People thinking about suicide aren’t seeking help because of negative associations with mental health illnesses like depression, she said.
“By reducing the stigmas and identifying the prominent warning signs of those struggling with mental health issues, we as a community can prevent such actions by identifying risk factors and connecting individuals with appropriate resources,” Sims said.
South student activities will host Self Reflections 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sept. 10-13, which will give students a chance to see how far they’ve come and write positive affirmations on a self-reflection mirror.
The event is “based on research done on the benefits of writing positive affirmations,” Sims said.
SE will host a series of workshops titled Silent Epidemic of Suicide where youth suicide will be the focus because according to the event’s description, 120 young people are lost to suicide each week in the U.S. At the workshop, students can learn and understand the facts, risk factors and warning signs associated with youth suicide.
TR will kick off the month with a table to make students aware of suicide prevention and the month’s events at the campus’ Club Crawl Sept. 6. TR student support coordinator Tim Cason believes the month is important because of how it draws attention to the epidemic.
“There are a lot of activists working to make sure people are getting the help they need when in the past it has been unaffordable, inaccessible or even just scary,” Cason said, adding that it’s important because “it’s not just about saving lives, it’s also about empowering people to help their community.”
NE advising and counseling has organized a number of Let’s Talk and Stand Together events that align with their approach to the month, which is breaking down stigmas and supporting one another, said NE counselor Masika Smith.
“We’re also going to have personal stories from brave students willing to share their struggles with suicide,” she said.
Smith will also share her own story on Oct. 10, which is World Mental Health Day. With suicide being the second-leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-olds, Smith is glad to have a month to talk about it, though everyday is suicide prevention and awareness day for her.
“I’m hoping for us at this campus, September is just the beginning, and we’ll continue to have this conversation not just in September but in October, November, December, throughout the whole year because tough times, those thoughts, they don’t just appear in September,” she said.
NE counselor Robin Copeland said another goal of theirs is to make sure people know it’s OK to talk about suicide.
Copeland said she isn’t sure why September was chosen to be the month to shine a light on such an important topic, but it works, especially given that it falls early in the semester and right before the holidays, which can be a struggle for people.
“College is a tough time, but if we can empower students early on, get it out there in the very beginning and introduce them to the resources they have available to them on campus, hopefully we can reduce the risk of suicide,” she said.
For a full list of events, go to collegian.tccd.edu