Suicide Prevention Week: Events Make a Difference


National Suicide Prevention Week commenced Sept. 9, 2018 and concluded Sept. 12. The New York Times shares statistics from the National College Health Assessment, which claims that there has been a nationwide increase of 7.6 percent since 2013 of college students suffering from depression. Over the same period, students considering suicide increased from 8.1 percent to 11.5 percent; those attempting to increased 0.4 percent. They estimate that one in 12 students have a suicide plan.  

Unfortunately, many students in colleges are suffering from depression and several are feeling suicidal.  In commemoration of Suicide Prevention Week, Piedmont College hosted several events to raise awareness.

Campus Activities Board (CAB) played an important role in raising awareness by displaying a PowerPoint on statistics on suicide prevention, offering a depression screening, and giving out ribbons at the welcome desk.  CAB gave out purple, blue, and yellow ribbons, each representing a different kind of awareness. Purple and blue ribbons supported suicide prevention, though those who wore them may not have been directly affected by it. Yellow ribbons represented those who had either previously attempted suicide or lost a loved one due to suicide.  

The residential assistants and counselors also helped raise awareness by presenting a documentary called “It’s Real.”  On Sept. 12, Cassie Moss, Jen Sabolsky, and Piedmont counselor Evonne Jones presented the documentary and held a discussion afterwards. “It’s Real”  focused on six college students who had experienced depression, were feeling suicidal, and were able to feel better by receiving the help that they needed.   

As someone who has never experienced feeling suicidal, I wasn’t expecting to be able to relate to the documentary.  However, while watching the documentary, I felt like I was able to connect with the people involved in several ways.  For example, Maranda, one of the people in the documentary, was at a small private school before she came to a huge university.  It was a very difficult transition for her. I felt like I could relate a lot to this in the sense that before I came to Piedmont, I attended a small private school from grades seven through 12.  Even though Piedmont is a smaller college, it still has a much larger population of students than my previous school and it was a difficult transition during my freshman year. Like some of the college students in this documentary, there were times where I missed classes and did not cope well.   

At the end of the documentary the students talked about how they were able to improve their mental health by exercise, writing, talking to a counselor, or being surrounded by friends.  I could also relate to this because I’ve experienced how important it is to have human connection and to take care of mental health.

I think this documentary was important because college students could relate to people in the film who may be going through the same stages of life as they are. “It’s Real” may have also given Piedmont students hope, since the students the documentary followed were able to get the help that they needed.   

After the film, Jones led an open discussion about the documentary.  She said the three things that are important to take care of are diet, sleep, and exercise.  It was also mentioned that it is important to be open about our struggles. She emphasized that leaders must be open as well.   

I feel like these events during Suicide Prevention Week were very impactful.  My hope is that students and people in general know that people care, including myself, and that there are resources available.  I also want others to know that even if they are struggling, life does get better, and that there is hope.

If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.