Suicide awareness month: signs, prevention

September dedicated to shining light on, destigmatizing suicide

There is a boy in your organic chemistry class. He smiles through the lectures and aces all of the exams. You wonder how he stays so positive. On the inside, he is struggling with the intense pressure to be perfect. 

There is a girl sitting at the table next to you at Starbucks. She drinks her coffee while reading a book. Reading is her escape from the harshness of reality. 

You never know what someone else is going through. How someone expresses their feelings on the outside may not be the way they feel on the inside. 

This is why September is recognized  as suicide awareness month. Suicide awareness month was created to raise awareness about suicide while also helping to destigmatize it. 

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 34, and the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. according to the CDC. 

The majority of college students are in this age group.

This means our classmates or even friends could be dealing with suicidalthoughts and need help. 

According to Bridges to Recovery, some of the signs someone is having suicidal thoughts are substance abuse, talking about emptiness, giving away personal items and socially withdrawing. 

Knowing these signs and taking action could save someone’s life. 

David Hernandez, a sophomore biology pre-med major, said managing the stress of school and a demanding job caused his mental health to suffer, but a kind classmate gave him hope. 

“Like many students, I struggled with thoughts of depression and hopelessness […] I was questioning myself, introducing negative thoughts and bottling up my emotions,” Hernandez said. “The memory that turned it around, a memory I will never forget, was an instance where a peer of mine in a laboratory noticed me in a time of distress and asked me how I felt.” 

Many students have stories or know someone with similar stories to Hernandez’s. 

Hanna Flynn, a sophomore business administration major, believes spreading awareness about suicide is crucial for college students. 

“My close friend committed suicide years ago. Before then I didn’t realize how important it was to look for the signs,” Flynn said. “You never know when someone may be feeling that way, but there are things you can do to help.”

ULM’s Counseling Center has free resources that educate students, prevent suicide and help students with suicidal thoughts. 

Britannia Johnson, a licensed professional counselor, encourages students who need help to contact the Counseling Center. 

“If a student is struggling with suicidal thoughts, they are encouraged to schedule an appointment with a counselor as soon as possible,” Johnson said. “In the instance of an emergency, counselors can be reached through the ULM Police Department.”