Know where to turn

Ferris offers suicide assistance programs for students

Graphic by: Jordan Lodge | Production Manager

Many students and young people experience depression and/or thoughts of suicide, and it is important to know that there are places to go for help.

The Personal Counseling Center located at Ferris State University’s Birkam Health Center is one of these options. Lindsay Barber serves as the director of the facility.

“If a student is contemplating suicide, we take this very seriously. We advise any student who is having these thoughts to immediately seek care at the Personal Counseling Center,” Barber said.

“There is always a counselor on site to address the needs of our students during these times,” Barber said. “Our number one priority is keeping students safe and well. We have licensed mental health professionals and resources available at all times to ensure the well-being of each student. If a student is experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm, we urge them to seek help.”

According to the American College Health Association, one in every 12 college students have made a suicide plan at one point. According to Barber, speaking up is essential to the healing process not only for depressed students but all students.

“We also need to continue to have the conversation about removing the negative stigma associated with mental health that too often prevents someone from asking for help. It is not weak to ask for help, it is strong,” Barber said.

Active Minds is another resource on campus where students can receive support. Ferris applied speech communication senior Victoria Hudgins is the president of the registered student organization (RSO).

“Active Minds is a mental health advocacy group on campus. Its members aim to eliminate the negative stigma around mental health and focus on showing students how to be a friend, keep their minds mentally healthy and seek help if or when they need it,” Hudgins said.

Like Barber, Hudgins was adamant about continuing the conversation.

“Everyone has mental health, therefore mental health is something everyone should be talking about. We as college students know how stressful balancing classes, work and social time can become, and we want students to know it’s okay to reach out and get help if they are struggling,” Hudgins said.

Active Minds strives to educate students on how to identify if a fellow student is depressed.

“A few things to know about depression would be the signs to notice in others: pulling away from friends, potential weight loss or weight gain, exceptional change in grades in classes, less responsive to others, etc. It’s important to know what to look for so you can always be a friend that can point them in the right direction and help things before it gets too severe,” Hudgins said.

In addition to these on-campus options, there is the Listening Ear 24-hour helpline that can be reached at (989)772-2918.

“It is important to reach out to someone—a roommate, your R.A., a professor, coach or parent. The resources are there for each student and we want to help,” Barber said.

“A mental illness does not change who the person is, and it is incredibly important for everyone to understand that people who suffer from and fight depression are some of the strongest people on the planet,” Hudgins said.

If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, please seek help at one of the above listed options. If it is urgent, call 911.

The hours of the Personal Counseling Center are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is available to all students free of charge.