Real talk about suicide

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

Colleges around the country are holding events to bring awareness to suicide and mental health.

Approximately 1,100 U.S. college students commit suicide each year. During September, many colleges are recognizing Suicide Prevention Awareness Month by sharing resources and stories in an effort to break the stigma that surrounds mental health.

This week at Macomb Community College in Michigan, several events are taking place to bring awareness to this issue. Students created an exhibit that included informational posters, flyers, stories, artwork and community resources all related to educating on issues related to suicide. And there was a remembrance wall in both of its student center buildings. Students and employees were encouraged to post a memory, a name of a friend or loved one who passed from suicide, or a thoughtful message throughout the week.

The college also held a Stomp Out Suicide event that involved shoes being placed around campus. Attached to each pair of shoes was a brief bio of a college student who committed suicide.Statistics and information regarding suicide also were placed on signs and written on sidewalks.

“Sometimes things seem so dark to people contemplating suicide that they don’t know where to turn,” said Marie Pritchett, dean, of arts and sciences at Macomb. “Our goal in raising awareness of this issue is to make sure that someone who needs help themselves or for a friend or family member knows that there is help available. If we can do that, this effort has been a success.”

In Kansas, Garden City Community College’s Student Government Association hung signs on campus reminding people that help was available. SGA members handed out literature and provided resources. Students were able to contribute to a wall of sticky notes with positive messages – or to take one of the positive messages if they needed it. In addition, SGA members also sold T-shirts to raise money for the Southwest Kansas Suicide Awareness Alliance.

Ivy Tech Community College’s Hope Squad organized a free presentation this week on the Columbus campus. The director of clinical services at Life Recovery Center will speak at the event. And at San Diego City College, the mental health counseling department is hosting events on campus for both students and faculty that will encourage dialogue and problem solving.

Next week in Oregon, Columbia Gorge Community College will host “Talk Saves Lives: An Introduction to Suicide Prevention,” a community-based presentation where attendees will learn the risks and warning signs of suicide. Included in the event will be a screening of It’s Real: College Students and Mental Health, a short documentary featuring the stories of six college students from across the country that successfully learned to manage their mental health.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has plenty of resources to share with students to spread awareness. As NAMI says on its website, “We can all benefit from honest conversations about mental health conditions and suicide, because just one conversation can change a life.”

Is your college recognizing Suicide Prevention Awareness Month? Tell us how at LinkedIn.

AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.