Suicide Prevention Week: Hope Talks-Talk Hope
During National Suicide Prevention Week – Sept. 4–11 – James Madison University’s Counseling and Student Development Center is partnering with other campus organizations to host events that promote awareness of suicide as a college campus issue, encourage hope and educate the public on how to talk with someone who is struggling.
Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in the U.S. with one suicide occurring on average every 15.2 minutes. Suicide is also the third leading cause of death among 15–25 year olds and it is estimated that 1,100 college students die by suicide every year. JMU’s slogan for NSPW, "HOPE TALKS <-> TALK HOPE," will help teach the importance of open communication and seeking help.
Erin Casey, a senior political science major, is the president of Active Minds, a student organization whose mission is to spread awareness and reduce the stigma associated with mental illness. “Mental illnesses are not things that can be 'fixed' but I’ve learned that open communication, offering a listening ear and helping people get professional services when needed are tremendously helpful,” said Casey.
Dr. Katrina Simpson-McCleary, staff psychologist at CSDC and coordinator of JMU's Suicide Risk Reduction and Outreach program, is proud of the resources JMU has to offer. She said the goals of NSPW are to increase awareness of suicide, teach students how to recognize someone who may be struggling and how to talk to them and to have students know all the resources available both on and off campus.
One of the highlights during NSPW will be a “Message of Hope” photo booth. This photo booth will be on the Warren Hall Patio, Festival lawn or outside the Health and Human Services Building throughout the week. Students are encouraged to write on a dry-erase board what they do to cope with stress or what they would want to say to a friend that is struggling then take their photo with their message. These pictures will be used on the CSDC Facebook page as well as at other NSPW events throughout the week. There will also be staff from the CSDC at the photo booth with resources on how to cope with depression and stress.
Army veteran Bryan Adams, a current college student suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, will be speaking to the JMU and Harrisonburg community Sept. 11 at 6:30 p.m. in Grafton-Stovall Theatre. Simpson-McCleary believes Adams story is important to share on campus because student veteran groups are often “invisible.” She is excited to acknowledge and provide an opportunity for a voice to be heard from within the student veteran group.
For updates throughout the week on NSPW at JMU: http://www.facebook.com/pages/JMU-Counseling-Student-Development-Center/212535080140
To check out all the services and facilities the CSDC has to offer: http://www.jmu.edu/counselingctr/
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK
By Lauren Vacca ('13), Public Affairs Intern
September 3, 2012