URBANA — Suicide is the second highest cause of death for college-age students, but counselors at the University of Illinois are trying to help reverse that trend. They set up on the engineering quad on Tuesday. They’re trying to reach as many students as they can this week.
The campus counseling center put out a table with resources for people who know others who may be suicidal or have been feeling those kinds of things themselves. They say even if people may not need it now, it could be an issue someday down the line and they want to let people know they’re available. Organizers say they’re also trying to help with the stigma that it’s not okay to talk about mental health.
“Our job is to really bring that up and talk about those things that usually those people really don’t want to talk about, these types of conversations are usually uncomfortable,” said Arielle Brown, who is a graduate assistant for the Counseling Center. “We want to go ahead and make it interesting and fun out here and let people know that it’s real and we’re here to help.”
People who stopped by could pick up little messages of hope. They could also write one for other people and leave it in the jar. Organizers handed out stress balls, candy and other things too. They want to stay visible through the semester, so they plan to be on the main quad on Thursday.
The CDC reports that suicide is the second leading cause of death for college-age students. That’s according to numbers from 2014. It says suicide is the second most common cause of death for people age 10 through 34. It’s the fourth highest cause of death for people 35-54.
They are also encouraging all to take part in Kognito At-Risk. It is an interactive suicide prevention training program to help connect people with campus resources. Access to the training can be found at the counseling center website.
There are more than 1,000 suicides on college campuses each year. The Suicide Prevention Resource Center estimates one in 10 college students has developed a plan for suicide at some point.
To raise awareness about campus resources and encourage students who may be in distress to reach out, the University of Illinois Counseling Center is observing National Suicide Prevention Week.
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