Suicide Prevention Week addresses mental health of UD community

By: Rachel Cain – News Editor

Suicide Prevention Week was hosted this week by Active Minds, the Counseling Center and Community Wellness Services.

“Mental health impacts each and every one of us, and it’s really prevalent on a college campus because students can be over-stressed…and over time, it can take a toll on a person,” said Brittany Fischer, President of Active Minds and a senior psychology and criminal justice major. “It’s important to let people know that they’re not alone and there are resources here.”

Suicide Prevention Week previously has been hosted only by Active Minds. This year, the Counseling Center and Community Wellness Services collaborated with the student group as part of UD’s Suicide Prevention Committee’s efforts for more departments to work with Active Minds, Fischer said.

Active Minds is a group of about 25 members at UD dedicated to raising awareness about mental health.

The activities, which took place at various locations across campus, this week included Community Web Yarn Art and Resiliency Rock Painting.

The Yarn Art involved students writing basic information about themselves on a board and then connecting that spot with another person’s information with a piece of yarn to visually represent the support system within the UD community.

For the rock painting event, participants were invited to paint a positive word they believed describes them.
“Over time, [the painted word] weathers, but it’s still part of you,” Fischer said.

“Everybody plays a role in [suicide] prevention,” said Steven Mueller, assistant vice president of health and wellness and director of the counseling center.

Mueller suggested that if you are worried that a friend might be hurting him or herself to ask them directly if they’ve been hurting themselves or considering doing so.

“We know that 67 percent of college students tell a friend they are suicidal before telling anyone else,” Sarah DeWitt, coordinator of health education and wellness promotion, said in an email.

Friends should respond to this situation by seeking help from services such as the Counseling Center or Campus Ministry. However, Mueller explained that it is just as important to demonstrate care and love on a personal level.
“The best suicide prevention is reaching out to people and showing them you care if that person’s hurting in some way because you might not know how deep that hurt might be,” Mueller said.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among persons ages 15-24, according to a 2013 report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the latest year for which this information is available.

In 2013, the suicide rate across the US among 15- to 24- year-olds was 11.1 per 100,000, an increase of 9.6 in 2007, according to a 2015 New York Times article.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please call the Counseling Center at 937-229-3141. Outside the Counseling Center’s hours (Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.), Public Safety can put you in touch with a counselor. Public Safety’s number is 937-229-2121.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Services are available in English and Spanish.