The suicide prevention and awareness ribbon is teal and purple to incorporate the two colors of domestic violence awareness (purple) and sexual assault awareness (teal). Photo/Thero.Org
By Audrey Bishop, Assistant Campus Life Editor
September is Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month. During this month, many come together and support their loved ones who have or are suffering in silence. Whether it is a family member or a friend, this month gives remembrance to many and brings attention to this pressing issue.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., with over 48,000 people taking their own life lives in 2018, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. The suicide rate for people between the ages of 15 and 24 that year was an average of 14.45 attempts per 100,000 people, which is significantly higher than in past years.
“Completed suicide rates have gone up in our country over the last 20 years and are the second leading cause of death of adolescents and young adults,” says Lisa Factor, of Factor Counseling Services.
Suicide awareness and prevention are rarely talked about with teens and young adults, and many of those who have suicidal thoughts often suffer alone, yet, “Sharing any emotional pain with a trusted person allows for the pain to diminish,” Factor adds. “Research shows that when you can share what you are struggling with and the response is one of empathy, understanding and compassion, a healing connection is made.”
This is why it is important to look for signs that someone you know, or love might be hurting. Megan Hammonds, a license counselor with UNCP Counseling and Psychological Services, says clients who visit the counseling center do bring up suicidal thoughts. “We do not control thoughts that pop into our head. Sometimes they [suicidal thoughts] do and there is no shame in it,” she points out.
Thoughts happen and there is nothing anyone can do to stop them. However, there are people available to help you work through them. Hammond wants students to know they are not alone, weird, broken or insignificant when struggling with thoughts of suicide. She encourages students to “get the good care they need.”
Some warning signs to look for, if you think a friend or loved one might be having these thoughts, include a dramatic change in behavior, such as when good students suddenly stop attending classes and stop doing homework. Both Factor and Hammond mentioned that another indicator that a loved one could potentially be suffering from suicidal thoughts is if they talk a lot about feeling hopeless.
Factor describes suicide as a permanent response to a temporary and treatable mental health situation. “The mental health issues that can lead to suicide are treatable with therapy,” she says. There are resources on campus to help all students. The number one way to get in contact with someone is by calling (910) 521-6202. This number will get you in touch with a triage counselor at Counseling and Psychological Services who can help schedule an appointment. Students can also call this number after hours and speak to a triage nurse, who will assist in reaching the proper services.
If you have a friend who is having suicidal thoughts, Hammond advises, “Be open and supportive, listen to your friend, and encourage them to seek professional help. If you are concerned and the friend is resistant to connecting with CAPS or other services, complete a CARE report.” The report can be accessed by visiting https://www.uncp.edu/campus-life/care-team/send-care-report.
At UNCP there are many people who care and are here to help any student in need. Students who need immediate assistance and cannot reach the university staff may call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255.