Finding light

World Suicide Prevention Day highlights importance of being continuously aware

Every student can relate to the stressors that school brings, but to some, it’s more than just the overwhelming feeling of having too much on their plate.

According to the 2013 National Health Assessment II, about 6.5 percent of Ferris students at the Big Rapids campus had seriously considered suicide within the last 12 months.

However, only 1.0 percent had actually attempted suicide within the last 12 months.

To put these numbers into perspective, that would mean about 650 of Ferris students had seriously considered suicide in the last year.

So, the 1 percent who had attempted suicide within the last year would mean that about 100 students at this campus attempted suicide in 2013.

Even though Sept. 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day, it’s vital that everyone, especially students, are always informed of the importance of suicide awareness and prevention.

“Suicide can affect anyone and everyone,” sports communications sophomore Victoria Hudgins said. “Many people who attempt suicide never seek professional help, which is why it’s important to always be a friend.”

Ferris offers free counseling for students who have contemplated suicide, experienced depression, or just want someone to share their thoughts with.

“We try not to [only] target students who may be at risk for suicide,” University Counselor Thomas Liszewski said, “but also the whole campus so that [counseling] can be a resource for them.”

According to Liszewski, students in counseling undergo tests and therapy to change their mindset, however, a lot of students report that just having someone to talk to helps tremendously.

“I think the biggest message is that most depressed students are not suicidal,” said Liszewski, “but most suicidal students are depressed—and it’s very treatable.”

Active Minds is an organization that aims to inform students of mental health issues that may lead to suicide.

“[Active Minds] has taught me that raising awareness for not only suicide, but other mental disorders such as Seasonal Affective Disorder, depression, and even eating disorders is extremely important because everyone goes though hardships and low periods in their life,” Hudgins said.

To ensure the safety and comfort of students in the residence halls, all Residential Advisors must go through training focused on recognizing suicidal behavior.

“We are taught to watch for subtle signs of a person wanting to commit suicide,” Health Care Administration Systems senior Krystle Long said, “such as making jokes about self-harm to flat-out saying they want to take their lives.”

Though there are various ways to assist someone that range from medical help to therapy, sometimes the best way can simply be recognizing the warning signs and showing compassion.

“Sometimes all it takes are some kind words and someone to listen to them,” said Long. “We never know what someone may be going through.”

Students who feel as if their hopelessness is serious and in need of professional treatment can take advantage of Ferris’ free counseling on the second floor of Birkam Health Center.