Each year in the United States, 34,000 deaths are caused by suicide, and individuals who question their sexual orientation are three times as likely to attempt
suicide. Students learned about these facts in a lecture and a Question, Persuade, Refer training seminar on suicide prevention with an LGBT focus in the Shepherd Union Building today.
“Spring 2010 data told us that 20 percent of Weber State students had seriously considered suicide either prior to college, since starting college or both, and 7 percent had made an attempt,” said Dianna Abel, the director of the Counseling and Psychological Services Center at Weber State University, “and both of those statistics exceed the national average for college students.”
Abel is part of a suicide prevention group that educates communities on suicide prevention. She lectured in the union building about the statistics regarding these circumstances and what it means to Utah.
“We know that the Intermountain West has the highest suicide rate in the country, which a lot of people would assume that it would be in the East Coast or Los Angeles, but the truth is states including Utah, Montana (and) Wyoming have higher suicide rates,” Abel said. “One of the things we know is that people don’t talk about suicide. People don’t think that they can, that it’ll make it worst if they do, and that’s not true, so we’re trying to teach people to talk about it, to ask about it, and to do something about it.”
Harrison Spendlove, a senior public relations student at WSU, attended the suicide prevention lecture and QPR training seminar.
“No suicide should happen, period, amongst any age, but as human beings, we should be treating people to the way that they deserved as being human beings,” Spendlove said. “We shouldn’t even have to have these conversations if people would just treat each other appropriately and be the support that’s inside friendships, families, people you work with.”
Spendlove said he is an active member in the gay community and supports the LGBT mission.
“Everyone and anyone should be coming to these things to know the realities of the world,” he said, “to learn that there really are people that need our help and we should all be there for them, especially if most us considered ourselves Christians.”
Mindy Chamberlin, a WSU sophomore in journalism, said she has attended the QPR training three times.
“A lot of people don’t think that anxiety and stuff like that is an actual disease that needs treatment,” she said. “A lot of people think, you know, ‘Just get over it’, but it’s really not (that simple), and this presentation helps show that.”
Chamberlin said she likes to have open conversations on hard topics.
“A lot of people don’t realize the high suicide rates in Utah,” she said. “I think that suicide is kind of a hush-hush topic, and when you take the step to come to this kind of presentation, you learn a lot that maybe you didn’t know before.”
Kate Martinson, the LGBT services coordinator at WSU, organized the suicide prevention lecture and training with Abel.
“We like to do this once a semester,” Martinson said. “This semester is focused on LGBT specifically. There’s a statistic that 30 percent of suicides are LGBT-related, and since that number is so high and since we actually do have a large number of LGBT people on campus, we want to make sure people have this training and they have this awareness so they can help themselves and others.”