There are more than 1,000 suicides on college campuses per year and suicide is the second-leading cause of death among people aged 25 to 34 and the third-leading cause of death among people aged 15 to 24, with lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual youth attempting suicide up to four times more than their heterosexual peers.
But the Gay-Straight Student Alliance (GSSA) club at Shawnee State University hopes to help students in need, regardless of sexual preference or gender and decrease these numbers by hosting their annual Suicide Awareness Week, Sept. 6 through 10.
“Throughout the week we have students,staff, and anyone who comes to the Morris University Center fill out a heart, there are white hearts symbolizing that someone has struggled with suicidal thoughts/actions and lived through it and the black rimmed hearts represent people who have lost their battle,” explained GSSA President, Taylor Long. “The week comes to a close with our biggest event, a candle-light vigil. During the vigil we all stand together outside of Massie Hall and light a candle for every heart that is present. After we light the candles we come back together and have a talk. People share their stories or experiences and it can get emotional really fast.”
Representatives from other campus organizations will also be present, providing students with answers on where and how they can receive help if they are struggling.
Here are some tips from Shawnee State University’s Campus Counseling Center on how to get help if you are struggling with thoughts of suicide:
- If you are at immediate risk of harming yourself or someone else, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.
- Text “shawnee” to 741-741 and received emotional support on any issue from a trained crisis counselor 24/7.
- Contact Campus Counseling Services between 8a.m.-5p.m. at 740-351-3608 or stop by our office located on the 2nd floor of the UC, suite 205, to request an emergency appointment.
- You can call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 614-221-5445 or 1-800-273-TALK, which provides free and anonymous assistance 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.
- Students who live on campus or reside in the Portsmouth area can call the Crisis Hotline at 740-354-1010 or Toll Free 855-381-1010 to be connected to 24-hour crisis hotline
How to be helpful to someone who is talking about suicide:
- Be direct. Talk openly and matter-of-factly about suicide.
- Be willing to listen. Allow expressions of feelings. Accept the feelings.
- Be non-judgmental. Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong, or whether feelings are good or bad. Don’t lecture on the value of life.
- Get involved. Become available. Show interest and support.
- Don’t dare him or her to do it.
- Don’t act shocked. This will put distance between you.
- Don’t be sworn to secrecy. Seek support.
- Offer hope that alternatives are available but do not offer glib reassurance.
- Take action. Remove means, such as guns or stockpiled pills.
- Get help from persons or agencies specializing in crisis intervention and suicide prevention.
For more information, you can contact Shawnee State University Campus Counseling Services or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
Reach Ciara Conley at 740-981-6977, Facebook “Ciara Conley - Daily Times,” and Twitter @PDT_Ciara
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