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How Miami Athletics is spreading awareness for Suicide Prevention Month

September is the National Suicide Prevention Month, and at Miami University, athletes are making efforts to spread awareness of this month and what it really means.

Mental health has become more of a focus in people’s lives as they learn more about how it can affect people. Something that people once couldn’t name or describe is now becoming more acceptable to talk about; however, mental health in athletes needs to be taken more seriously. For an athlete, the mental game is just as important as the game they play. 

Athletes tend to find their identity in their sport. Because of this, many athletes place a lot of weight on their performance in-game. They are held to a higher standard than most students, and it comes with a lot of pressure. 

“Typically, we have up to 20 hours of training each week including on-ice practices, weights, cardio, dance studio and stretching,” said Sammie Levine, a senior on the synchronized skating team. “On top of that, we maintain full course loads and still find time to participate in extracurriculars. With so much on our plate, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or stressed.” 

The mental side of the sport doesn’t just end after practice time, but a constant factor athletes have to deal with.

At Miami, athletic leadership boards are making strides to better address mental health.  Nishi Saravanan, a junior on the Miami tennis team, is an active member of RedHawk Council, a student athlete-led advising committee doing just that. 

“We bring certain problems to attention,” Saravanan said. “If someone on our team has an idea about something, we are the ones to try to make it happen. We come up with ideas for promoting DEI Week, Mental Health Awareness Week, and our overall mission of ‘Building Culture’.” 

The RedHawk Council takes National Suicide Prevention Month seriously because of the effect it has on students’ lives and the role mental health has in athletics. 

Last year, it organized a mental health week in September where it put up posters in the school hot spots such as the Recreation Center, Goggin Ice Center and Armstrong Student Center. It also created t-shirts with the suicide hotline number on them and had all athletes wear them on the Tuesday of that week. 

Chuck Thuss, a former Miamian who was an All-American as a goaltender on the Miami ice hockey team, was a speaker who was featured during the mental health week to talk to student–athletes on the struggle of mental health.

The members of RedHawk Council last year also took initiative and got certified in suicide prevention training so that when and if a situation arose they would know what to do.

This year, you can expect the RedHawk Council to have a role just as significant as last year. 

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The first week of September, RedHawk Council organized a mental health week to bring awareness to the number 988 for suicide prevention. On the Thursday of last week all returning athletes wore their 988 shirts from last year as a part of this suicide prevention week. 

“[We always want to] be supportive and do our best to make sure that you are healthy and feel like you are your best self,” Saravanan said.

While September is considered National Suicide Prevention Month, the conversation can’t be restricted to one month only. Mental Health is an issue that still needs to be addressed and people need to be aware of. 

Suicidal thoughts can affect anyone, and it is important to raise awareness for this often-stigmatized topic. If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health or suicidal thoughts, ask for help. Check on your people, make sure they know how loved they are. Resources on campus are available along with the suicide hotline which can be reached by dialing 988 and is available 24/7.