The Medical and Counseling Care Center offered tools and resources to help students who are struggling with stress and depression during National Suicide Prevention and Awareness month.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 44,965 Americans die by suicide. It is the tenth leading cause of death in the US. For every suicide, there are 25 attempts.
Michelle Overman, counselor at the MACCC, said the center offers counseling, but if students want help without counseling, another option is personal development workshops.
“We just want people to know that they are not alone,” Overman said. “We want to provide resources to help even if they are not interested in counseling, we want people to know that there are resources that they can turn to.”
These workshops are free during Chapel and offer tools to help with anxiety and mindfulness.
“We know and we see students everyday who are dealing with a lot of just hard things and then you put that in with just being in college and the stress and the demands of that,” Overman said. “It does create a lot of pressure and some people feel symptoms like anxiety and some people feel depression and what can come with depression is suicidal thoughts.”
Shannon Kaczmarek, director of Residence Life and Student Advocacy, said the student advocacy office is not for therapy, but rather to help struggling students. Student advocacy assists students financially and works with professors about challenges students face when suffering from depression or anxiety.
“(We) help them think through what are all the other stressors in their life going on,” Kaczmarek said. “What does it look like to be able to have resources or opportunities to help with the whole picture of it. Usually there’s a lot of other things involved. Often times there’s financial stressors involved, often times there’s some family things going on, often times academic stuff is going on too.”
Student advocacy also provides medical withdrawals for students who need to take a break from school and re-enroll without having to submit a new application.
“Our students are probably some of the best voices that can be heard around this prevention,” Kaczmarek said. “What it looks like for our students to go through a period of isolation and then have their peers reach out to them is really, really powerful. They can have people from the university, faculty, staff, reaching out and offering support but it’s really different when it comes from your peers. That’s one of the things that we can’t provide for students.”
According to suicidepreventionlifeline.org, some key warning signs of depression and suicide include talk of burdening others, withdraw or isolation, extreme mood swings, talk of feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
Overman said many students are afraid to discuss suicide, in avoidance of escalating the situation. However, peer support is incredibly important when it comes to suicidal thoughts, especially when the person feels isolated.
“If you know someone who is struggling don’t hesitate to reach out on their behalf or ask them about it,” Overman said. “That’s the biggest thing, a lot of people think if they ask it will make it worse. But don’t be afraid to ask the question, you could really help someone.”