Suicide Awareness Week encourages helpful conversation.
By Victoria Valdez
The Brookhaven College Counseling Center offered information regarding suicide prevention in S Building lobby for Suicide Prevention Awareness Week Sept. 27-29. The Brookhaven counselors gave students purple and turquoise ribbons representing suicide prevention awareness.
Students learned the steps to help prevent suicide from counselors and were provided with informational pamphlets on depression, suicidal thoughts and how to help guide students going through these issues. The pamphlets also contained information on actions a student can take if they fear someone may take their life and how to cope with a loss from suicide.
“Many students experience a number of stressors and life-changing events while they are in college. … 18 to 29-year-olds are more likely to experience an episode of depression than people in other age ranges,” Katherine Woods, a professional counselor, said in an email to The Courier.
Chrystal Keaton, a counseling intern, said the Counseling Center’s goal is to inform students on the free counseling services Brookhaven provides. The Counseling Center provides services such as individual counseling, consultations and referrals, crisis intervention and online mental health screenings, according to the Brookhaven College website.
“It’s important for students to be aware that they are not alone,” Keaton said. “There are other students who feel, think and act the same way they do.”
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, or AFSP, “Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.” Major depressive disorder, also known as depression, is the most common illness associated with suicide, according to the AFSP website.
Depression can have many symptoms, such as changes in appetite, loss of interest in activities that once gave pleasure, sleep loss, increased fatigue, low energy, sad mood and suicidal thoughts, according to the American Psychiatric Association.
Yecsenia Sanchez, a student, said she was not aware Brookhaven provides counseling services to help students experiencing depression or suicidal thoughts. “I have known people with depression,” Sanchez said. “It’s a very hard process. You really don’t know where to start when it comes to helping them.”
Woods and Keaton said they agree the best way to treat depression and suicidal thoughts is through counseling. Woods said, “Mental health counseling is beneficial for most people who suffer from depression.”
Keaton said, “We use counseling therapy to work through and address issues that stem from or lead to more severe depressive symptoms.” She also said the counselors work to evaluate and assess risks for suicidal thoughts, which are more common than people think about.
A student, who asked to remain anonymous, said she experienced suicidal thoughts and depression for six years. “I’ve overcome it by medication and therapy,” she said. “When my depression magnified, it was a feeling of loneliness and hopelessness.”
If a student is concerned someone they know may take their life, Woods said, “Take it seriously, be willing to listen, voice your concern, let the person know you care, ask if the person has a specific suicide plan, get professional help immediately and if they have a suicide plan and they are off campus, call 911.”
Woods said, “The more awareness we have about depression and suicide, the more likely we will be able to prevent a suicide in the future.”
Students experiencing depression can visit the Brookhaven Counseling Center Monday through Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.