Activate the Hero in You
As college students our lives are busy, and sometimes, it can seem to be an overwhelming load: studying, work, extracurricular activities, being a student-athlete in addition to maintaining a full-time course load, issue of homelessness-yes, there are homeless students on many campuses. And, if you are away from home, not surrounded by your family or friends-that can be difficult when stressful situations arise. Life brings us many possibilities and challenges to face, and oftentimes, we value what occurs in our lives. However, when the negative appears to outweigh the positive, the outlook begins to look bleak, and the sense of isolation and invisibility - that no one sees me-engulfs our being. These feelings can lead to that dark space where hopelessness and helplessness resides. This is a dangerous zone. It is in this place where one may begin to feel that life is not worth living and, make a decision that if carried out, is irreversible. Death by Suicide.
Suicide is a scary word, a painful word, and one that we rather not talk about. But, we must. According to the American College Health Association (ACHA), the suicide rate among young adults ages 15-24 has tripled since the 1950s, and suicide is currently the second most common cause of death among college students (https://www.verywellmind.com/college-and-teen-suicide-statistics).
Statistics do not lie! In addition to suicide, the rate of anxiety among college students is also on the rise. According to a survey conducted by the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors, 58.9% of students who visit college counseling centers have anxiety, making it the top mental health concern for the eighth year in a row.
I discussed this with my mother who is a Mental Health Counselor RN, and, she said, “Let’s dispel the myth that suicide is only an issue for those who are diagnosed with a mental illness. Suicide may also be an issue for anyone struggling with serious life problems, and unbearable emotional pain. When I assess someone who is in a crisis situation, and I determine that the individual believes that suicide is the only alternative to alleviate the pain that they are experiencing, I detain them on a legal hold that allows for further evaluation in a secure hospital setting. This is not punishment. This is done to do whatever we can to save a life. Our goal is to get them through it. Most suicide crises last for a brief period of time-a time when one cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. Again, an intervention is not punitive. It can restore hope by providing access to support services and education.”
As a freshman in college, I can personally attest to the challenge of trying to stay balanced in the midst of all the bustling facets that can be attributed to college life. Trying to juggle grades, clubs and organizations, an engaging social life, and getting ample amounts of sleep has been, to say the least, onerous. All of this on top of being 2,000 miles away from home has not been easy, but I have maintained my spiritual relationship with God, I talk to my friends and my mom and I’m grateful to have people to turn to when I feel like I’m at my lowest.
The pain that someone is suffering is not always obvious. Do not be afraid to reach out if you are concerned about a friend or loved one. It is not about keeping a secret. It is about doing whatever you can to save a life. If you observe one or more of these Warning Signs, especially if the behavior is new, has increased, or seems related to a painful event, loss, or change, reach out.
Talking about wanting to die or suicide
looking for a way to kill themselves
Feeling hopeless, desperate, or trapped
Giving away possessions
Putting affairs in order
Increased drug or alcohol use
Anxiety or agitation
Changes in sleep
Sudden Mood Changes
No sense of purpose
Remember, when you activate the Hero in you, know that you are not alone when you help someone in a crisis. There is a team of Heroes-counselors, the individuals that work the crisis line, and the healthcare professionals in your student health center on your school campus.
You can make a difference. Reach Out!
*If you encounter a life-threatening emergency/crisis, notify your school’s campus security immediately!
* If you are experiencing an emotional crisis or, a life-threatening emergency do not hesitate to reach out to a trained volunteer or counselor available to you on your school campus, or call 9-11.
Remember, you are not alone.