With this week being National Suicide Prevention Week, many organizations are trying to spread awareness of the necessity to get help. The To Write Love On Her Arms chapter here at Illinois State is among these organizations, but a large part of suicide prevention is recognizing its effects on surrounding people.
According to a National Center for the Prevention of Youth Suicide study, about 1 to 5 percent of college students attempt suicide. These students, and others who follow similar paths, often presented signs to their friends and family members. The problem is that many of these signs go unnoticed until after the death has already occurred, and then those close to the victim often view the choice as “selfish.”
However, staff psychologist and suicide prevention coordinator at Student Counseling Services Gina Meyer noted, “Most suicide attempts are made by intelligent and temporarily confused individuals who cannot see any other solution and are expecting too much of themselves, especially in the midst of a crisis.”
She also said that committing or attempting suicide has various factors that contribute to the mental state of the person at hand, including “depression, hopelessness, death of a loved one and so on.”
One of the most important messages to get across to people is that suicide is not the answer, but due to the boggled state of these individuals, that message is not always enough. It is essential that people understand the thought processes and signs that occur near the incident. Getting more of a handle on what is going on with these troubled individuals can potentially be more effective in preventative measures.
Meyer explained that most people give some sort of clue when contemplating suicide.
“Most communicate their intent sometime during the week preceding their attempt … Always take any verbal or nonverbal indication of suicidal ideation seriously,” she added.
Verbal signs include direct and indirect warning signs. A person may say, “I wish I were dead” or something along that line, or it may be more subtle. Behavioral warning signs, Meyer said, include giving items away, preparing by acquiring a weapon of choice and withdrawing from close friends.
Situational warning signs are often less obvious. Meyer stated that those are often unnoticed because everyone handles stress differently. These factors could range from a death of a loved one to bullying, and are often accompanied by mental illnesses.
Bullying, according to an article published in the New York Daily News, is one of the leading causes when high school students contemplate or attempt suicide. Nearly 16 percent of the surveyed students said that they had been cyberbullied.
This new form of bullying has been developing since the existence of instant messaging, social media, and texting, but bullying itself is not new. The consequences can be tragic and have been for years.
Preventing some of the situational triggers such as bullying is one of the easiest ways to help prevent suicide among peers. Other methods to prevent include being more aware, especially since many ISU students will go on to become teachers. Because of the stigma around mental health concerns and embarrassment surrounding bullying, many people will not open up when experiencing traumatic events or problems.
It is important to recognize concerns when they arise and address them in a timely fashion, ignoring the misconception that will make people actually think about these problems. Future teachers should also be aware of what goes on with their students and address these issues when they notice them. For those currently struggling with any sort of mental issue or problem, Student Counseling Services is a free option for students. In the event that it is an emergency, people in the Bloomington-Normal area should call the PATH hotline.