September sheds light on the tragedy of suicide
To many, Utah may be known as a happy state, but what many may not know is that Utah is in the top 10 states with the highest suicide rate.
The National Institute of Mental Health found that one out of nine college students has seriously considered suicide. With a student body of about 35,000 students at UVU, that would mean a total of 3,889 have contemplated taking their own life.
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Throughout the month, UVU is hosting different events and activities on campus for UVU’s students and faculty. On Sept. 19, there will be a free Whole Body Laughter Yoga session held at noon in Centre Stage. Attendees can come wearing their street clothes. The session will be a stress buster and focused on promoting healthy living strategies.
Between fall semester of 2010 and summer 2011, there were four completed suicides by UVU students. This past spring semester, Graham personally interacted with 43 suicide risks.
According to San Diego State University’s Counseling & Psychological Services, the second leading cause of death within the college student demographics is suicide.
Another study, performed by Johns Hopkins Children’s Center showed that college students sampled from Mid Atlantic States had feelings of detachment from their family and friends or felt unloved, causing them to be more vulnerable to suicidal thoughts.
The suicide rate in Utah is 50 percent higher than the national average, but there are steps that UVU students and Utahns can take to decrease that number.
During the week of the 19th, J.C. Graham, program coordinator over Suicide Prevention will be visiting different classes to hold gatekeeper training. And students are welcome to go to Student Health Services to receive free depression training, but will need to go in and book an appointment ahead of time.
Student Health Services offers therapy and all students can take advantage of the sessions, whether they are suicidal or not. The first session is typically free and any session following is just ten dollars. However, the center is willing to work with students facing financial hardships.
The Suicide Prevention Program at UVU was founded in 2006 after they received a grant to fund the program. Since receiving the grant, Graham has focused a lot of time on training as many faculty, staff and students as possible to be gatekeepers, which enables them to be proactive in aiding those that may be suicidal.
“A student is one of the best resources on campus,” Graham said. Since Graham accepted the job in 2007, she has trained 8,500 people to be gatekeepers. The training she offers is known as QPR – Question, Persuade, Refer. Graham began reaching out to faculty and giving presentations at their faculty orientations.
She began training faculty, but then decided that more then just professors could benefit from the training. Instead of professors canceling their classes, she decided she could go and teach both professors and their students.
The trainings have since become in high demand. In the first year it was implemented, she conducted 56 QPR trainings. She is now averaging 50 training sessions a semester.
In addition to teaching faculty and students, Graham also works with academic advisors. Students who are taking this program and the training seriously, and apply it to their lives by helping peers and family members.
“I think it’s important,” said Mike Jensen, associate professor in the department of College Success Studies. “And have had semesters where I have had students complete suicide and whatever options I can give my students, I want to do so.”
Jensen is a big supporter of the program and incorporates the trainings into his curriculum.
“I knew JC was doing those trainings so I incorporate it into the curriculum because at least one of my students will be connected to someone who has contemplated suicide at some point,” Jensen said.
“If they [students] know someone who is at risk, first of all I would have them be proactive and get them some help,” Graham said.
For more information, visit http://www.uvu.edu/studenthealth/mental/suicide.html