Ending the Stigma: Suicide Prevention on a Campus ...

Ending the Stigma: Suicide Prevention on a Campus Near You.

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. With suicide being named the second leading cause of death among 18-25 year olds, one would assume there’d be more discussion on college campuses. Although there is some conversation surrounding suicide occurring, there’s hardly enough emphasis on reducing and eliminating the stigmas associated with mental illness.

Back up. What are the facts?

In addition to deaths by suicide, suicidal thoughts and behaviors are highest for young adults aged 18 to 25. About 7.4% of this specific population have thought about suicide and 2.5% have even made plans. These percentages have increased during recent years, begging the question: what are college campuses doing to help?  

So, What Are Colleges Doing?

Making students aware of counseling and mental health services offered on campus is a good start. In addition, there are tools such as online screenings that aid in the discussion. Several states even have laws regarding suicide prevention services, resources, and other similar initiatives for on campus.

Organizations such as American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, aim on expanding advocacy on campuses. In addition, this organization produced an 18-minute documentary “It’s Real: College Students and Mental Health” (preview here). Other organizations such as TWLOHA, whose mission is to “…encourage, inform, inspire, and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery,” advocate self-care. Self-care is essential as a college student due to new environments, experiences and people. Additional information about this organization is found in my earlier works (Summer Plans and College Teeter Totter). 

Where Can I Look For Help?

A great place to start is, which offers resources, support and information about suicide.

Next, visit your campus website to seek campus mental health resources you can get access to while at school. My university campus, Northeastern Illinois University also offers direct connection to the National suicide prevention hotline when you call their counseling services after hours.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-800-273-8255 is available 24/7 for any immediate crises. However, if you are in immediate danger of harming yourself also call 911.

Another way to seek resources is googling mental health centers near you, which are confidential and who cannot release any information to friends or family unless you are in danger of harming yourself.

Lastly, looking out for these important warning signs of suicide in not only yourself, but peers could make all the difference.

Warning signs of suicide:

*Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself;
*Looking for a way to kill oneself;
*Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose;
Sleeping too little or too much;
Acting anxious, agitated, or reckless
Talking about being a burden to others;
Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs;

Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain;
*Withdrawing or feeling isolated;
*Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge; and
*Displaying extreme mood swings.

Seeking help should not be taboo. If you ever find yourself in a place of despair with suicidal thoughts know that help is available. You deserve to live and you are NEVER alone.


About Lesly Guzman

Current college student at NEIU in Chicago, Illinois, future psychologist that serves the world. Self proclaimed Xicana and also feminist (an oh so controversial topic in today's world). I am majoring in psychology with a minor in child advocacy studies and plan to work with minority adolescents and children. Topics of importance to me range from inner city violence (present in Chicago), the importance of funding education (or lack of in my institution's case), to issues of identity, what it means to be a first generation college student, religion and culture, along with the utter most important topic of mental health. I challenge myself in my learning, in my views, and hope I may do the same in a positive manner for those I reach. I plan to help change the world one day, even if it takes a lifetime.