by Chase Chaplin, Health Promotion and Wellness Services
*Please note that this story contains mention of suicide in reference to prevention and intervention*
In 2021, over ¼ of college students surveyed nationally scored at risk of suicide (NCHA, 2021). Therefore, it is not surprising that suicide is the second leading cause of death among college-aged students, with motor vehicle accidents being the first (CDC, 2019). However, suicide is not an unavoidable issue that we must just accept as part of being in this phase of life.
The first step to changing the issue is recognizing that we have a problem. All colleges and universities struggle with suicide, and Auburn is no different. Now, take a deep breath. We as a community can do things to help this problem, and there is no action too small to lead to a positive effect. The culture surrounding suicide is highly related to the stigma surrounding mental health. These things can be uncomfortable to talk about and lead to silence and fear instead of support. However, the first step to changing the tide is to make a wave – this is something we can all do.
The stigma surrounding mental health is deeply ingrained within our society and can often leave people feeling more alone and beyond help than they truly are. As a society, we are scared to talk about mental health and some of the negative things that come along with this. However, talking about it is the first step to changing it. I urge you to reach out and ask your friends how they are doing. How are they really doing? We often hear things after suicide like “I never would have known they were struggling” or “They just seemed to have it all together” and I attribute these attitudes partly to our tendency as a society to not openly talk about things we do struggle with and to put on a façade when necessary. The reality is, that not every day is going to be a good day, and the sooner we accept this as friends, family, and community the easier we will be able to transition into discussing more serious matters such as suicide.
Auburn University offers a suicide prevention/intervention course at no cost to students, faculty, and staff. The QPR program has seen over 1,000 attendees get trained at almost 50 training courses since 2018. The program is a comprehensive way to respond to someone in crisis and teaches the three steps for effective response: Question, Persuade, and Refer. We host semesterly marathon training days and will do training as requested for any group of more than 5 participants. Our next marathon training day will be held September 9th, the day before World Suicide Prevention Day. Please follow @auburnhealth for more details, to request a presentation please email HPWS@auburn.edu
Auburn also hosts a chapter of the national organization, Active Minds, which focuses on breaking down the stigma surrounding mental health. This organization hosts biweekly meetings and puts on signature events such as Mental Wealth Week, Send Silence Packing, and Suicide Prevention walks. For more information, or to join Active Minds, please find us on Au Involve!
Support can be accessed for Auburn University affiliates by calling Auburn Student Counseling and Psychological Services’ 24/7 hotline at 334-844-5123. National Assistance can now be reached at 988.
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