For every suicide in the United States, there are 25 suicide attempts, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death among adults in the United States, over 41,000 individuals commit suicide every year and it is the second leading cause of death amongst young adults between the ages of 10 and 24 years, as reported by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
“It is very important for students and staff to be aware about suicide prevention and how to know the signs are there because it could be on anyone's mind. It's crucial to understand that depression does not have a face – anyone could be going through it whether they show all the signs or barely any,” said Camila De Pierola, sophomore psychology major. “For that reason, we should all try to educate ourselves as much as we can about mental health in order to be prepared with the tools and resources needed to help those going through this. Above all, we should be checking in with the people in our lives to show that there is support and that they are not alone.”
Research, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, found that almost 90 percent of victims of suicide were struggling with some form of mental illness. LMU’s Student Psychological Services (SPS) are aiming to target suicide prevention this year due to the increase in suicide ideation, gesture and completion among young adults in recent years. To do this, the University plans to hold seminars with faculty and staff to educate on warning signs in students that may be at risk, according to Stephanie Kawecki, chair of staff engagement committee.
Staff and faculty from the Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering were given a presentation by Dr. Kristin Linden, director of student psychological services, on Sept. 29, about understanding and referring students to SPS when they become aware of a student struggling in any aspect of his or her life. These presentations will be given throughout the year to all staff, facility, resident directors and resident advisors in housing, according to Dr. Linden.
“[Dr. Linden] stressed that we are the first line of defense and keeping an open connection and network so that we are communicating and we have the right resources to help students,” said Kawecki. “I think [this information] is very important, especially since we work so closely with students, but [these presentations] can be applicable to anyone you know, anyone you work with and I think it helps us be more well rounded individuals and better employees of the university.”
Knowing the warning signs can help students get the help they require as soon as possible. LMU’s motto is “hear something, say something,” with SPS hoping students and faculty will acknowledge, care and spread the word about suicide prevention, according to Dr. Linden.
“Suicide prevention is everyone's business. As a society, we are great at talking about sports, the weather, and even pop culture but when it comes to mental health, we lack the confidence and knowledge,” said Michelle Rincon, senior psychology major. “We fear not knowing what to say, or worry that what we say could make things worse. That is why information and connection is so important. Suicide doesn't have a face. It is all encompassing, discriminatory against no one. But it is also preventable. We, students, faculty and staff alike, are the face of suicide prevention. Ask questions, get involved, save a life!”
If you or someone you know expresses any of suicide characteristics, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or call LMU’s Student Psychological Services (SPS) at (310) 338-2868. To access a therapist after 5 p.m., call (310) 338-2893 and follow the prompts. For off-campus emergencies, call 911.