Suicide is the number two leading cause of death among people between the ages of 15- 24 in the United States, said Jessica J. Stephens the keynote speaker during her presentation of suicide awareness.
A cornucopia of information was discussed on the topics that resonate with suicide. The difference in groups at risk was discussed on the basis of gender, ethnic and sexual groups.
Common myths, individual scenarios of suicide, and words not to say to someone were also presented by Stephens during her presentation last Thursday.
“I want for people to be comfortable with talking about suicide with a loved one or somebody else they care about, so that they have an opportunity to help that person.” Stephens said about one of the goals she had for what the audience took away from the event.
With September being Suicide Awareness Month, the university’s Student Government Association organized the event to bring awareness on the issue that affects many young adults. One statistic from Stephens’ presentation,“8% of 18-22 year-old college students reported having suicidal thoughts last year.” Stephens then followed with, “If you are not having these thoughts, someone you know might be.”
Member of SGA Ebenezer Oloba organized the event for the TAMUK campus. Oloba was personally affected by the topic of suicide as he is one of the people who have not had self-harmful thoughts but has had a friend who has.
“I felt like tonight went really great. Some of the things presented, I wish I knew ahead of time, having been in front of a friend who I did not know was having those thoughts. It’s better to know ahead of time before it’s too late.”
Another student who attended with intentions to help a friend was Hinduja Kumar. She said she attended due to a situation that happened earlier in the day involving a close friend.
“It will be very helpful for me to sit down and talk to her. I didn’t know where to start from, I was hopeless but having seen this presentation it will be better for me to go and talk to her and give at least some sort of help. I feel like I can go out and really be helpful to someone who is down. This convinced me to have a positive approach to help people who really need to sit down and talk,” she said of her new attitude towards helping her friend.”
“I wish these events happened more often. It will be really helpful for students of any age to come sit down and listen to an expert speak on the topic,” Kumar said.
Once Stephens completed her presentation, audience interaction activates were held by discussing and analyzing individual case studies and having audience members point out potential warning signs of self-harm in each case.
One of the activities was the “Puzzle Piece Activity.” The activity presented warning signs of people contemplating suicide to different individual pieces that make up that person’s puzzle.
“One piece might be given to a sibling, one to a mother, one to a father, a brother, a girlfriend one to a best friend and then you put all of those pieces together and if those individuals communicate with one another they will be more likely to find that person is at risk for suicide.”
Organizers told students that if they were having thoughts of self-harm or are concerned for someone who might be having similar thoughts contact the department of Student Health and Wellness Center at 361-593-3991.