Campus groups promote Suicide Prevention Month

Hannah Carroll, Campus Carrier Staff Writer

September is recognized as Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and features dates that initiate the discussion of suicide and how it can be prevented, including Sept. 10 as World Suicide Prevention Day and Sept. 10-16 as National Suicide Prevention Week. It is a month geared towards removing the stigma and shame associated with suicide and allowing the chance for prevention to occur.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), suicide is the tenth-ranked cause of death in the United States with approximately 45,000 lives taken by it in 2016 alone. Rates have increased by 30 percent since 1999 and approximately 123 deaths by suicide each day, stated by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (ASFM).

While most suicides occur for white males between the ages of 45 and 54, it is still a crucial topic to discuss with young adults as suicide is the second leading cause of death for those in between 15 and 19 years of age, according to the CDC. Through its various programs on campus devised to help students and promote good mental health, Berry is continuing this discussion as September progresses.

A central influence and advocate for mental health is Peer Educators, a group of students who research methods for promoting healthy habits and distribute them to the student body. They create Pot Thoughts, flyers addressing certain topics concerning wellness of students that are hung inside bathroom stalls. They also speak to BCC 100 classes and residence halls and table to bring awareness to issues like drug and also alcohol abuse.

Peer Educators rarely address suicide directly but often target mental health issues or stressors that could lead to suicidal thoughts and emphasize methods of maintaining good mental health that aids in the prevention of suicide, according to senior and Peer Educator Rachel McCord.

Another integral resource in students’ lives is Resident Assistants. RAs are specially trained by the Counseling Center to recognize potential warnings of suicide and to aid students who are seeking guidance. On Sept. 10, Berry RAs also participated in an event to spread positivity and remind those who are hurting to fight for life.

RAs such as Mackenzie Bryan and Becca Harper hosted a postcard writing party, entitled “The Postcard Project,” where participants wrote notes of positivity and affirmation that will be sent to patients institutionalized in mental health facilities. The purpose of the project was to raise the spirits of those going through certain tribulations and encourage them to continue living.

The Counseling Center also provides professional counselors as a resource for students. Counselors are available to students by appointment and offer guidance to take the necessary steps towards a healthy mental state. All information disclosed is kept confidential, unless the student is determined a risk to him/herself or to others, according to McCord. A counselor is on-call 24/7 through the Counseling Center, which is located in the Ladd Center.

Methods of suicide prevention can also be attained outside of resources provided by the college. Marshall Jenkins, licensed psychologist and director of counseling, said that a step to a healthy mind is promoting a life of resilience, which emphasizes factors such as strong personal relationships, maintaining an adequate amount of sleep and practicing good hygiene. Social integration helps to reduce the risks of suicide and good physical health assists in having good mental health, according to Jenkins.

Jenkins also emphasized the importance of reaching out to those who may be struggling.

“Empathetic listening is protein for the psyche,” Jenkins said.

Establishing a bond and tending to it is a step toward healing for those who may be contemplating suicide.

Suicide is typically associated with mental illness, but according to the CDC, 54 percent of those who committed suicide did not have a known mental illness or disorder. Therefore, it is important to recognize risk factors that can raise the chance of suicide.

According to Jenkins, some factors to watch for are : depression, drug or alcohol abuse, changes in character or personality, attempts to get affairs in order and displays of farewells.

If you or someone you know is struggling and seeking help, some resources are:

Counseling Center:
(706) 236-2259

Peer Educators:
(706) 236- 1758 or

Campus Safety:
(706) 236-2262

National Suicide Hotline:

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