Suicide Prevention and Awareness month encourages mental health education

Alexandria Anderson, News reporter

With September being Suicide Prevention and Awareness month, it is a better time now than ever to learn about how to notice the warning signs and to take care of your personal mental health.

According to research from the National Institute of Mental Health, suicide is the second leading cause of death in the 15-24 year old age group. It is a growing reality that college students are facing the risk of suicideso we must grow aware of the warning signs in others, as well as coping mechanisms to aid with our own mental health.

Karl Laves, licensed counseling psychologist and associate director of the Counseling Center, stresses the importance of suicide awareness and understanding warning signs in college communities.

“The importance of suicide awareness and prevention is that we know roughly two thirds of the people that attempt suicide do not want to be dead. They want their lives to change and they don’t know how to make that happen,” Laves said. “We know that if we reach out to these people we can prevent a suicide. To reach out we need to know the signs of a person who is thinking about suicide.”

The warning signs of suicide may not always be the ones you expect. Talking about wanting to die, threatening to kill themselves and actively looking for methods to attempt suicide are all very explicit signs in people. In the case of these emergency signs, call 911 immediately to assure the safety of the person in danger.

Other signs tend not to be as explicit. Things such as feelings of hopelessness, mood swings or abrupt anger, acting recklessly or withdrawing from friends and family are all signs to get in contact with a mental health professional.

Most people that are thinking about suicide want to talk about it, they want people to reach out, but they are confused, sad, angry, or ashamed. So it is important that we take the first step and make it easier for people to talk about suicide,” Laves said.

Premature prevention is just as important as awarenessbeing able to seek proper treatment and guidance if suicidal thoughts or tendencies arise are vital to suicide prevention.

WKU offers free counseling services for all students. Whether it be through one-on-one sessions or support groups, anyone struggling with mental health or suicidal thoughts is recommended to see one of the therapists at the center.

“Our counseling center hosts workshops several times a semester that help people learn what the signs of suicide are and how to talk to someone that is thinking about suicide,” Laves said. “We use the QPR model of suicide awareness and prevention. The training takes about an hour and is free.”

News reporter Alexandria Anderson can be reached at [email protected]