Suicide prevention on campus gains momentum

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Mikayla Cottrell, Reporter [email protected]


On Sept. 18, UVU’s Suicide Prevention and Awareness Program will be sponsoring three events on campus to help boost awareness of suicide.

The events will start at 12 pm and go until 3 pm. The first event will feature the keynote speaker, Tanner Kirk, 16, who is passionate about suicide prevention. Kirk survived his own suicide attempt and has used his life since to help others who feel the loneliness and helplessness that he felt.

The second event will be a moment of reflection and a dove release, in memory of those who have died by suicide. The final event will be another speaker, Greg Hudnall, Ph.D., who will speak about youth and the need for teaching suicide prevention in the Utah public school system.

This event displays UVU’s recent push for awareness. The main objective of the suicide prevention and awareness program is to educate as many staff and students as possible about the various suicide prevention measures that are available and offered by Student Health Services.

“My goal is to make suicide awareness everyone’s business on campus,” J.C. Graham, the program’s coordinator who has trained over 15,000 people, said. “The more people trained in suicide prevention, the more lives will be saved.”

One way of getting awareness around campus is the “Don’t Cancel Class” option for faculty who are in need of cancelling a class. If a faculty member needs to cancel a class, they can call the suicide prevention program instead and request a gatekeeper-training meeting with students on the signs of suicide, ways to help someone who is suicidal and how to help prevent suicide for yourself or someone who may be in need of help.

“Regardless of our individual college majors, we are all social beings, and we can all use this training,” said Graham.

The training helps faculty and students to be more aware of others who might be in need by asking questions like, “are you having thoughts of suicide?” or, “are you feeling suicidal?”

The goal is to persuade them to get help by a referral to get help through emergency services or making an appointment with a mental health professional.

While confidentiality is very important to health services, Graham assures us that many faculty and students have benefited from the training meetings. She has been told many stories where the signs of suicide they learned in the training meeting helped them help others get help, and some have even saved lives.

The JED Foundation, an organization that helps promote suicide awareness and prevention training, website listed on UVU’s webpage states that 1 in 10 college students has contemplated suicide, and from Graham’s experience, if you have conversations with students about suicide and get them talking about it, you find it’s more common than you think.

These training meetings also include information for students on the Student Health Services Center and what is offered there.

The suicide prevention program offers emergency services for students who feel that they or someone they know are contemplating suicide and need immediate attention. They also offer preventative measures through individual and group therapy sessions.

Mental health professionals can also do a depression screening or a suicide risk assessment for students who feel that they need help. Graham also urged any other students who are in need of any other help to come in. Anxiety, relationship issues and stress are just a few of the examples of what students can get help with.

Graham advised that if a faculty member or student comes in contact with someone who they think may be contemplating suicide or having suicidal thoughts, that they should seek help immediately. She also said that the person should not be left alone and to remove anything that could harm them. She encourages everyone to program the Suicide Prevention Lifeline into his or her phone (800-273-TALK).

The Suicide Prevention and Awareness Program was started at UVU in 2007. Faculty members can call the Student Health Services to schedule a gatekeeper training meeting for their class (es).

*If you or anyone you know may be suicidal, please contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255), a 24 hour service or contact UVU Student Health Services at 801-863-8876 (M-F 8-5). If it is not an emergency, appointments are preferred.