Photo: Iyanna Armwood
Author: Iyanna Armwood
Suicide is the second leading cause of death in ages 15 to 34 in the state of Pennsylvania, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Addressing this problem, on Thursday October 20 Chatham University hosted a Talk Saves Lives suicide prevention presentation in Eddy Theater. Chatham professors Dr. Sharon D. Novalis and Dr. Joyce Salls were the presenters that evening.
The presentation informed young college students of the risks of suicide around them. While a person might not know of another that has committed suicide, there’s at least one person in everyone’s life that face risks of suicide. The risks can include health factors such as mental illnesses, environmental factors such as stressful life events and/or historical factors such as child abuse.
Dr. Novalis explained that people don’t talk about suicide enough. There’s a stigma around it and she is trying to open it up for discussion through her presentations and research. Suicide is relevant to young people, she explains. “We’re not alone in this,” Dr. Novalis said. She wants people to know that if they need to, reach out and get help if they suffer from suicidal thoughts.
Maryem Aslam, a senior Biology and Psychology major, answered to why she attended the presentation with, “It is an important topic to discuss. I wanted to learn more about the topic so that if I am ever in a situation where I need to react or educate someone accordingly, I have the resources and information to do so.”
Just as Dr. Novalis explained, not a lot of people touch on the subject of suicide, so not many people know the resources around them or what to do when faced with a situation anywhere close to suicide.
Jessica Keller, a junior Chemistry major, admits, “I personally have not known anyone who has completed a suicide, but I have known people who have attempted, frequently self-harmed, or who had thoughts of suicide.” It’s not just Keller. According to the presentation, everyone knows someone who needs help, but most don’t see the signs like Keller. Even less know what to do if they do.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention says to assume you are the only one who will reach out. Look for the warning signs through their talk, behavior, and mood. If concerned, talk to the person in private. Talk to someone if it’s serious. If you’re struggling don’t wait for someone to reach out. Chatham offers counseling services at the number 412-365-1282 and there are off campus services as well. One is the National Hopeline Network hotline, 1-800-SUICIDE, and there is always 911 for emergencies.
The Chatham community is also holding an Out of the Darkness walk on April 8, 2017. They are looking for walkers and donors in order to raise awareness and funds for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention so they can further research create educational programs, advocate for public policy, and support survivors of suicide loss.
If interested, visit the website at http://afsp.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donorDrive.event&eventID=4377 .