Suicide Awareness Week

Winthrop University strives to be a campus where students can feel safe and at ease

death in people ages 15 to 24, and the 2nd leading cause from 25 to 35. One person attempts suicide every 38 seconds. “Nationally, the suicide rate among 15- to 24-year-olds has increased modestly, but steadily since 2007: from 9.6 deaths per 100,000 to 11.1 in 2013,” says the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. It was estimated that 20.4 million students would become enrolled in college during the 2017-2018 school year. This will equal approximately 2,264 students dying by suicide.

Even though National Suicide Awareness Week was from September 10th to September 16th, National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month is during the entire month of September. There is also a Mental Health Awareness Month that occurs in May that is more focused on mental health issues that may lead to thoughts of suicide. Both months purposely coincide with times when there is a lot of changes are occurring in the lives of students. In May, students are graduating and figuring out what they are going to be doing with their lives, while in September students are just being introduced to college life and starting to become settled in their community. Both of these times can be trying on a student’s mental health.

There are groups within colleges that are at a higher risk of ideation and attempt. Males make up 80% of attempted suicides and Caucasians make up 84%. However, the rate of suicide is growing faster among women and African-Americans.

Some of the major risk factors are: depression, anxiety, isolation, and alcohol or substance abuse. 18.8 million Americans suffer from depression. Those who suffer from depression are 20 times more likely to die by suicide; ⅔ of people who die by suicide are depressed. Yet, depression often goes undiagnosed or untreated because people don’t address it or recognize the signs.

The reason that suicide is mainly prevalent in college age students is quite obvious.. Being placed in an entirely new environment with virtually no support system can be one of the scariest things to ever happen in life. College students face infinitely multiplied academic challenges and social pressure from their peers. They have to fit in and maintain an adequate social life, all while keeping their academics up to par. Often times, they have difficulty adapting and coping with their new environment due to their lack of experience with new situations.

Some of the warning signs that someone might be thinking of or planning to commit suicide are: being obsessed with death or dying, trouble eating or sleeping, drastic changes in behavior, losing interest in activities, or giving away possessions.

Recently, Netflix came out with a mini-series that addressed the reality of suicide in school-age teenagers. The show, Thirteen Reasons Why, was originally a book and many were extremely excited when Netflix came out with the television show. However, this show is extremely controversial. Many mental-health experts, teachers, and parents claim that it glorifies suicide and is a dangerous suggestion for people who might be going through the same things as the main character. But, for the most part, people seem to think that this show will be a learning experience for teenagers.

Winthrop has many operations in place to try and prevent suicide from happening. The activities that Winthrop has in place are dedicated towards preventing problems as opposed to trying to help after the problems already exist. One example is The First Year Experience program. It was created in order to help high school students transition to college and make them feel less alone in their first year of college.

Part of the First Year Experience program is taking an ACAD class during your first semester of college. This class is “a faculty-taught course that addresses academic skill development, advisement, scholarship retention, and critical reading,” according to The Office of the First Year Experience.

Winthrop also has a Health and Counseling Center that is located on the second floor of the Crawford Building. The purpose Counseling Services is to “provide quality mental health service to enhance the overall mental health of Winthrop University students along cognitive, emotional, personal, and interpersonal dimensions,” says Health and Counseling Services. They offer individual counseling, along with some themed group counseling. There are also groups for overcoming procrastination, LGBTQ therapy, and a Harry Potter themed group that focuses on personal resilience. To make an appointment or receive more information about their services, call (803) 323-2206.

Any talk of suicide by a friend or loved one should be taken seriously, and help should be sought out immediately. 75% of all suicides give some warning to friends or family before attempting. Getting help from a professional or even calling their parents might save their life. If they are unwilling to seek help, encourage them to call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at (800) 293-TALK. If someone is in immediate danger, call Campus Police at (803) 323-3333. Do not leave them alone until help is available and remove anything that could be used as an object in a suicide attempt. If nothing can be done or the above actions are not available, call 911 immediately.

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