Kriz: Help truly is out there

Lindsay Kriz

During my sophomore year of college I agreed to take on the “Cops” beat on the Herald news staff, which meant getting the crime reports together, checking in with WKU and Bowling Green police for story ideas and writing obituaries for any deaths that occurred during the semester.

I ended up writing about seven obituaries that semester, and that number does not include the ones that could not be written because people were still aching and could not discuss the issue, and of course I would not pressure anyone to do. 

Having experienced grief in the past year, I know that sometimes physically pushing the words past your teeth and lips is not physically possibly, and to even try is not an option.  

I commended those who felt they would speak to me and grieved silently for those who knew they couldn’t, no matter how hard they tried. 

These people were usually tied to the death of someone who had decided to end their own life.

According to Western Kentucky University’s Suicide Prevention page, suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students, after accidents. 

That semester, at least half of the obituaries I wrote were about students who no longer felt they could remain with us. 

Each call that I got, and each story I wrote, made it more difficult to remain professional, knowing that I may have known that person, or walked by them on campus numerous times. 

They may have been the class clown in one of my classes freshman year, or we may have made casual conversation about the weather while waiting in line for food. 

The point is that the person who was gone was once here, and that person may have been a friend, a lover, a relative or a student of yours. 

You may have been their best friend on campus, and you may have confided in them more than you did your own blood. Perhaps they were your own blood. And to you, who still grieve, I am very sorry. 

However, the situation is not all bleak, and there is help out there.

It was brought to my attention recently that as we approach the end of the semester, it is evident that suicide has touched our campus over the past five months, and I realized I could try and help in some way. 

I am aware that suicide is not always preventable, and the death of a loved one may, and usually seems to come as an aggressive shock. But even knowing the warning signs, what to do, and who to call can help. 

According to WKU’s suicide prevention page, some of the potentially visible signs are:

-Talk of being depressed 

-Talk of a lost of interest in activities 

-Increased social withdrawal 

-Abuse of alcohol or drugs

-Talk of giving away valuables

-Giving away valuables 

-Talk of a recent significant loss

-A sudden dive in academic performance and/or class attendance. 

Knowing the signs and recognizing them in a person is the first step. If you see any of these signs, in someone, the first thing you should do is attempt to talk to them. 

As someone who has battled depression, I cannot emphasize how much it helps just knowing that someone out there truly cares to listen to what is wrong with you, even you know it’s too difficult to talk about. 

It is important that you do not try to give any medical or professional advice at this point, and know that listening may just be enough. 

If the situation seems serious enough, and you believe the person has the potential to commit suicide, there are numbers to call. 

For a student who is living on campus, it is encouraged that you call the counseling and testing center, open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 745-3159 for emergency, or for after hours call campus police at 745-2548. 

For a student who is not on campus at the time of the emergency, you can call 1-800-223-8913. Other helplines include the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. 

If a person you know is suicidal, take the claim seriously, even if they have threatened to kill themselves in the past. Suicide is a serious matter, and should be treated as such. says, you should not attempt to argue with the person, or tell them that suicide is morally wrong.

 Promising confidentiality is not acceptable either, as a person’s life is at stake. 

You should not offer ways to fix their problems or make the person feel they have to justify why they feel the way they do. It may not necessarily be the problem, but how badly the problem is hurting the person that makes them suicidal. 

Lastly, and it may be the most difficult one of all, but if someone is depressed and wants to attempt suicide, or has done so, do not blame yourself. 

You may try as hard as you can to help someone with their depression or issues, but in the end their behavior is on them, not you.

 From experience I can tell you that after something bad happens I find myself saying “How could I have prevented this? I knew I could have prevented this!” 

But in the end I knew I could not. And the same is true of you. 

Many suicides are a shock to the friends and loved ones of the person who is gone, and feelings of guilt may arise. 

But in the end letting these feelings overpower you is pointless, and as difficult as it may be shake them, it is best to do so. 

And lastly, my own personal advice is just to listen and be a keen observer, or a good friend, boyfriend or parent. Be kind to those around you, even those you don’t know who can do nothing for you. Who knows? 

When you complimented someone on their outfit on the bus, or asked them if they were okay when they were crying in the bathroom or even smiling at them in the classroom, you may have changed their entire outlook with one kind, simple gesture. 

Never underestimate the small acts of kindness.