by Abigail Wisniewski
Recent statistics show that someone dies by suicide every twelve minutes.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students.
“We’re all impacted by suicide in one way or another, whether it’s indirectly or directly,” campus nurse Andreea Baker said. “When you read articles of kids committing suicide, it just made me want to bring awareness to campus, because we all know somebody who is struggling at this point.”
Baker hoped to bring suicide awareness to campus through Major Scott Ehler’s presentation of the signs and prevention of suicide to Concordia students, faculty and community members on Nov. 2 in the Thom Leadership Education Center auditorium.
Though suicidal thoughts can be caused by various factors, the leading cause of suicide is untreated depression, said Ehler. Although only about 6 percent of people suffering from depression say they would seek help, most people contemplating suicide give warning signs to those around them.
Some signs that a person is considering suicide include giving away personal belongings, changes in sleeping or eating habits, or changes in relationships.
Risk factors include depression, past suicide attempts, stressful situations and some socio-demographic features.
Not all people in situations associated with a high risk of suicide are suicidal. Likewise, a person may be suicidal even though he or she does not demonstrate risk factors. Depending on a person’s ability to cope, a small life event or change may cause depression in one person, while a larger event would not affect another person.
Ehlers also said that a person’s improvement after an attempted suicide does not mean that the risk is gone. It is important to take even casual comments about suicide seriously. Though a suicide may happen without warning, most people considering suicide give subtle cries for help, even if it is just by mentioning wanting to die.
Ehlers encouraged the audience to ask direct questions of anyone who may be suicidal. If someone is considering suicide, it is important to know what to do to help.
“I think the one thing that you have to remember in the case of someone who is suicidal is you don’t want to leave them alone, but you do want to call someone,” Baker said. “On campus, you have our counseling office, my office, student life, or Pastor Matthias.”
In situations where a person is in immediate danger of suicide, call 911.
Ehlers stressed the impact of community in suicide prevention. An encouraging community can decrease the stigma of suicide and provide communication and support between individuals.
Prevention can also come from treatment for mental illness, restriction of suicide means and education about risk factors, something Baker hoped to promote through Ehler’s presentation.