Speaker shines light on suicide prevention, warning signs, rate

By Jessica Strange/reporter

Suicide. It is no longer a rare event, especially among college-aged youth. That’s why SE counselor Michele Faith spoke candidly about the subject for a suicide prevention workshop Feb. 26 on SE as part of TCC’s #MentalHealthMatters week.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people age 10 to 34, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Factors that increase the risk of suicide vary but include mental illness, substance abuse, bullying, sexual orientation and trauma.

Over the last 20 years, suicide rates have risen, Faith said. From 2016 to 2017, death by suicide increased by 2,000 cases.

“In the last 20 years, we’ve seen things jump,” she said. “Bullying is in elementary, middle school [and] high school, and it continues into adulthood. We see it all around us with social media. We’re seeing it a lot.”

Destigmatizing suicide and talking openly about the subject are essential steps to reduce rates, and Faith said she saw a need early in her career for these talks. While some counselors were helping students with things like time management and study skills, Faith chose to give speeches on suicide.

“Somebody’s gotta step up and do the serious stuff,” she said.

Faith shared ways to identify when someone may be considering suicide. Warning signs include abrupt changes in behavior, preoccupation with death, making final arrangements and saying goodbye to loved ones.

SE students Brittney Candia and Victoria Rhodes were both surprised by the statistics shared in the presentation.

“I didn’t know that the statistics jumped so significantly from one year to the next,” Candia said.

Rhodes was at the workshop to earn extra credit for a sociology class but left with a newfound awareness of suicide.

“I did my own research for a high-school project only two years ago, and it’s jumped so high,” she said. “It’s really scary to think about how high the numbers have gotten.”

Faith hopes to reduce these rates by talking openly about suicide and sharing prevention strategies.

“If someone is contemplating suicide, they need to seek immediate help,” she said.

The Tarrant County Mobile Crisis Outreach Team is a 24-hour service available to children, adolescents and adults who need help during a crisis. They can be reached by phone call or text message at 817-335-3022. For emergencies, dial 911.