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Suicide prevention week raises awareness

University urges students to get involved, utilize resources

By Sarah Buop, For The Miami Student

Support Suicide Prevention Week is Miami's way of bringing awareness to suicide prevention efforts. Sponsored by a number of organizations on campus, Miami is hosting a variety of activities on the Oxford and Hamilton campuses for the week-long event, which began Sept. 17.

Miami's Student Counseling Services (SCS) made a point to create awareness on enhancing the understanding of mental health and wellbeing on campus. Psychologist and director of SCS Kip Alishio spoke up about college student suicide rates and spreading the awareness of the cause.

"Let me first say that actually rates of suicide among college students have been coming down since the early 1990's and have stabilized during the 2000's, according to research studies," Alishio said. "This is good news and seems to speak to efforts like this across the country which try to make all in the community aware of what to do and who to call when a student or someone a student knows is thinking about suicide."

According to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC), studies conducted over the years report that the high rates of alcohol use and heavy drinking on college and university campuses are a concern due to the close association with mental health problems.

Psychologist and Coordinator of Outreach and Programing Jennifer Young, expanded on some of the other factors that can induce the feelings of suicidal and depressed thoughts.

"Generally, environmental stressors and/or genetics play a role in mental health concerns but there are many reasons why someone would want to end her/his life," Young said. "When someone is anxious or depressed, they attempt to use coping strategies - talking to friends, exercise - to work through their emotions. The unique stressors of college oftentimes call for new coping strategies since what once worked in high school may no longer be working as well in college."

Changes in a student's lifestyle and the learning environment can increase stress and emotion, however there are many resources, such as Miami's Student Counseling Service website, and many coping strategies to diminish these thoughts and feelings.

"There are many resources for students with suicidal thoughts including the Student Counseling Service on the Oxford campus as well as counseling centers on the Middletown and Hamilton campuses," Young said. "We are here to help and provide mental health services to anyone coping with suicidal thoughts and depression. Additionally, as part of Miami University's Code of Love and Honor, we encourage fellow students to take responsibility for one another by taking action when they see peers in distress and assisting them in seeking out support and resources."

Alishio said it is important to know the thoughts of suicide are often time limited, and with seeking help, the emotional pain will ease. Many sponsors such as, SCS, the Office of Student Wellness, Peer Advocates for Total Health and others, would like the university as a whole to join the cause and break the silence about mental health, offering support to students and preventing suicide.

"This is why we and others nationally have called this campaign 'break the silence,'" Alishio said. "The less stigma there is about having suicidal thoughts, the more likely one is to talk with someone about them and the more likely that person is to reach out and ask for help and support from professionals such as we have here at the Student Counseling Service."

Senior Meghan Reed said Miami does a great job raising awareness about suicide prevention and providing resources for students.

"Stress is a fact of life but being able to have resources that will provide some relief, especially in college is fantastic," she said.

There are many ways for students to get involved with suicide prevention. Suicide Prevention Week will continue until Sept. 26, and events such as yoga, pet therapy and interventions are open for all students to experience.

"The next step I think is to make sure that as many people as possible know about all the resources available and really start asking what they can do to be involved in suicide prevention," Reed said.