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Students gather to reach out

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Heidi Fuller

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No two words silence a room quicker than “suicide” and “depression,” but ULM is breaking that silence, shouting the taboo words to raise awareness.

Sept. 10, 2010 served as National Suicide Day and the ULM HELPS (Helping Educators and Learners Prevent Suicide) program held its “Reach Out to Help” event in Bayou Park.

Its goal is to empower students and faculty to effectively handle crisis intervention. HELPS provides proper training in prevention techniques in hopes to prevent any further suicides on campus.

The “Reach Out to Help” event emphasized the importance of community outreach in preventing suicide. Not only were ULM organizations involved, but also an array of

businesses from the Monroe community provided services to promote mental wellness.

Miss Louisiana Kelsi Crain was among many speakers. “Your actions affect the lives of others.You have the opportunity to make a difference,” she said.

Aside from the powerful testimonies and encouragements came the two moments that put everything into perspective.

A “Circle of Caring” brought everyone in Bayou Park to join hands and witness how reaching out to one person could create a domino effect of outreach into others’ lives.

A balloon released at the end of the event was sumbolic for all Louisiana victims of suicide.

With 90 percent of suicide cases involving a prior struggle with depression, mental illness, and/or substance abuse, suicide is preventable if treatment is sought. The importance of

community outreach cannot be stressed enough.

Peggy    Buffington,      ULM HELPS Program Director, encourages everyone to get involved with HELPS.

“We will not judge you. We’re here to help, call on us,” she said.

ULM HELPS will train participants in the QPR (Question, Persuade & Refer) method, which is currently most effective in crisis intervention.

Carol Glover, CEO of Meaningful Minds,shared her personal story about the day in which she almost took her own life. She calls that day her “Blue Monday.”

“You never know how much a smile can do for someone,” she said.

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Students gather to reach out