This week is National Suicide Prevention Week, and communities across the country are working to attract attention to this national issue. Studies have shown that suicide is the second or third leading cause of death in young people between the ages of 15 and 24.
Meggen Sixbey, the associate director for crisis and emergency resources at the University of Florida’s Counseling and Wellness Center, said that about 30,000 people die of suicide in the United States each year, and more than one million die annually across the world from suicide.
When asked about how to respond if you suspect someone is suicidal, Sixbey said she encourages people to take action.
“When we are in a place of feeling despair and hopeless, we often don’t have the energy or the hope — that if we make the phone call ourself — that anything is going to change,” Sixbey said.
Taking action can include making calls to the Alachua County Crisis Center or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
There are signs to remain aware of if you think that someone may be suicidal. These could include blatant statements about how the person does not want to live anymore or how the person wants to die.
The signs can be more cryptic, including giving away pieces of technology. This is especially common among young adults who are suicidal. People who are older may attempt to give away family heirlooms or prepare a will.
Even though college can be a major stressor, Sixbey said that data has shown that young people not in school have higher rates of completed suicide. Possible reasons for this include a lack of trained eyes and ears on these people, as well as a lack of access to certain resources.
“Everybody needs to pay attention whether somebody is in school or not in school or somebody is 65 or 7,” Sixbey said. “We know that it really cuts across cultures, cuts across ages and genders.”
There are many resources available on UF’s campus, including the Counseling and Wellness Center, Dean of Student’s Office and the University Police Department.
Community resources include the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office and the Gainesville Police Department. The Alachua County Crisis Center is nationally recognized for its work, and it features 24-hour phone counseling and face-to-face counseling.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-237-TALK (1-800-273-8255). Another national suicide hotline is 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433).
Cassandra Vangellow edited this story online.