An unclear number of individuals took down fliers put up in the RecPlex as part of National Suicide Prevention week, which occurred from Sept. 9-15. One flier these individuals seemed to take issue with read: “85% of those with mental illnesses do not die by suicide because mental illnesses are treatable.”
Signs placed around campus displayed statistics about mental illness and suicide in observation of the national week. Sarah DeWitt, coordinator of Health Education and Wellness Promotion, said the fliers are a common practice used in health education.
“[The] purpose was to provide community information on mental health and suicide and really start to engage the community in conversation around mental health,” DeWitt said.
The response of the individuals who removed the fliers signaled an uneasiness with the information presented about mental illnesses, according to DeWitt.
“[The] stigma around mental health and suicide often stems from our discomfort with the topic.” DeWitt said.
Individuals who took down the suicide prevention posters could not be reached for comment because their identities are unknown. As such, the exact number of individuals who removed the fliers and their motives or reasoning cannot be ascertained.
Even though some of the fliers caused controversy, it all is part of starting a larger conversation within the community, according to DeWitt. Statistics on preventing suicide, for example, are part of a larger discussion about mental illness being treatable instead of curable.
The fliers bring mental health into the thoughts of those going about their daily lives on campus and help shed light on issues affecting many in the UD community.
“Building a community of care is an intrinsic part of our institutional identity,” DeWitt said.
Many resources and programs are available to promote mental health awareness. For example, students can participate in Kognito, which is a PATH-eligible online mental health module. The deadline for credit has been extended to Oct. 15.
UD also offers Mental Health First Aid training, which is sponsored by Student Development. It’s an eight-hour session that focuses on a variety of mental health issues and how to support those who are struggling.
Undergraduates can schedule a free counseling appointment here. For those who may need help, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.