Weber State University’s Honors Program and Honors Student Advisory Board hosted their 1st suicide awareness and prevention 1 mile walk called “Out of the Darkness,” at WSU’s main campus on April 4.
According to WSU’s Counseling & Psychology Services Center website, suicide is the 8th leading cause of death in Utah, taking over 500 lives per year. Utah’s is one of the highest suicide rates in the nation. This event was meant to make students aware of and encourage them to utilize the counseling services on campus, when they’re going through emotionally challenging times.
This public event was also held in order to raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Money raised from this walk will be used both locally and state-wide towards suicide prevention research, programming, education and advocacy.
For the first half of the day’s proceeding, the audience was addressed by 4 speakers, followed by the 1 mile walk and then the participants convened again in the Shepard Union Atrium for the final speaker.
Corbin Standley, psychology major and president of the Honors Student Advisory Board, opened by speaking of his brother David who committed suicide in 2010.
“Our intention is to have the event be a meaningful impact for everyone in attendance,” Standley said.
According to Standley, nationally and state-wide, individuals between 15-25 year-old are at a higher risk of suicide, and suicide is the second highest cause of death among high school and college students.
“I felt it was important to break down the stigma of mental illness and suicide and begin the discussion with the campus community,” Standley said. “We want those who have struggled with suicide loss or suicidal thoughts know, there is help available for them and that they’re not alone.”
The Counseling & Psychology Center (CPSC) located in the Student Services building provides students, faculty and staff with counseling sessions to help them cope with a variety of mental health issues.
According to the CPSC’s psychologist Tamara Robinette, the strongest indicators of suicide in young adults include but are not limited to depression or bi-polar disorder, verbalizing suicidal thoughts, expressing feelings of hopelessness to continue with life, an increase in substance abuse, involvement in life-threatening behaviors and dissolution of an intimate relationship.
With regard to identifying the characteristics of suicidal individuals, the CPSC’s Psychologist Jamie Brass said, “Other symptoms can also include withdrawal from loved ones, changes in personality or appearance, lack of engagement in activities that are important to an individual and giving away prized possessions.”
Suicide has not only been a state-wide and national issue but also an alarming one that WSU has inherited. Information from the CPSC indicates that in 2013, 21% of WSU students had contemplated suicide and 9% had made an attempt to end their lives.
On a daily basis the psychological team at the CPSC provide interventions for the campus community who are experiencing mental health crisis.
“Suicide can be prevented, we just need to have the courage to approach someone and tell them we are concerned and encourage them to get help,” Robinette said.