World Suicide Prevention day is Sept. 10, and the entire month of September is World Suicide Prevention Month. In Ohio alone, suicide is the 11th leading cause of death and the second leading cause of death for ages 15-34, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).
Nationally, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, according to AFSP. In 2017, there were around 1,400,000 suicide attempts and 129 suicides a day, on average.
Formerly Bobcats for Suicide Prevention Campaign, Active Minds is a mental health organization on campus. It is a national organization that has many branches across college campuses. On Ohio University’s campus, Active Minds is doing its part to stop the stigma around mental health.
Active Minds discusses different mental health disorders, coping mechanisms, self-care activities during finals and particularly triggering events in the media. The organization also discusses its biggest weekend, Awaken. The event, which takes place in the spring, hopes to stop the stigma through the arts. Students and local residents can submit paintings and perform their poetry
Lyndi Clinton, president of Active Minds, recognizes that mental health does not always look the same on every person, and that is why the organization is trying to educate and strike down the stigma surrounding the topic along with suicide.
“Suicide and mental health is not always a topic that we want to talk about, but if we continue to brush it under the rug, the more it will devastate college campuses, or leave many wondering why they just don't feel okay,” Clinton said. “Hopefully, together as Active Minds and the active minds of college students, we can reach our goal and hope not only at Ohio University, but everywhere.”
The organization’s advisor, Justin Wheeler also coordinates Bobcats Who Care, the suicide gatekeeper program. Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) runs the 3-hour interactive gatekeeper training program, which is designed to help students respond to individuals in crisis, offer support and link them with mental health professionals and other resources.
“(Bobcats Who Care) now has over 40 core trainers and facilitators from CPS, Division of Student Affairs (DOSA), Ohio University Police Department, academic advising, Diversity and Inclusion offices, and academic partners (counseling, social work, clinical psychology), among others,” Wheeler said in an email.
Incoming DOSA and Housing and Residence Life staff are trained in the program. The program is also offered to athletic trainers, athletics staff, the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine faculty and staff, ROTC staff, student organizations and anyone else who could help someone in crisis. Anyone interested in getting trained can submit a request online through the CPS site.
“Last year, CPS trained over 300 individuals, and since its inception over 1,500 members of the Bobcat community have participated,” Wheeler said in an email. “Recently, through a gift from the Ross Griffin Memorial Foundation, CPS was able to provide training to approximately 100 additional faculty and staff across OHIO campuses.”
CPS is not planning anything for World Suicide Prevention Day, but it is teaming up with Active Minds on Sept. 24 for the event Send Silence Packing. Send Silence Packing is a national traveling display of backpacks that includes personal stories from individuals who have lost a loved one to suicide. The stories are a powerful way to raise awareness.
West Portico of College Green will be scattered with backpacks that represent individuals who have died by suicide and will include personal stories from those individuals. Active Minds’ members and CPS staff will be available throughout the day to hand out resources, talk to students and answer any questions. Multiple student and greek life organizations will be tabling as well to help support suicide prevention.
On campus, CPS is available for students’ mental health. Anyone can stop in on the third floor of Hudson Health Center for drop-in hours from 9:45 a.m. to 3:15 p.m, Monday through Friday. At drop-in, students can see a counselor if in crisis or get set-up with regular appointments. From 5-10 p.m., Sunday through Friday in the Living Learning Center, students can receive confidential mental health consultation as well.
The Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation is helping counties across Ohio with suicide prevention resources for the month. Its Facebook page has a variety of resources one can use as support.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, please seek help by calling the national lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.