September is suicide awareness month

Megan McKay, Staff writer

September is Suicide Prevention and Awareness month; it’s time to raise awareness and end the stigma surrounding mental health. It’s often a taboo topic to speak about not being okay and dealing with mental health issues. However, ending the stigma is a crucial step to preventing suicides. This month is dedicated to changing the community’s perception on mental health. It’s important to raise awareness to share crucial information on the matter. Suicide Prevention should not just be recognized one month out of the year; we must address the issue year-round to ensure people have the resources they need to get help.Many people are unaware of the fact that 79% of those who die by suicide are men. For this group specifically, it is due to stereotypes associated with masculinity. Men are far less likely to ask for help. 90% of people who commit suicide were experiencing symptoms of poor mental health. There are no exceptions for not speaking up about the importance of mental health because raising awareness can save lives. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 45% of suicide comes from LGBTQ+ youth. Often these specific groups can feel targeted, left out and excluded because of society’s judgments. The hate many people in the LGBTQ+ community and other minority groups face is saddening. Next time you judge a person by their sexual orientation or the way they look just know everyone is facing their own battle. Sometimes people are just waiting for the last straw to push them to decide to take their own life.In order to prevent future deaths and raise awareness we must as a community create protective environments. People who are having suicidal thoughts physically experience brain functions that effect decision making and behavioral control. This effect makes it difficult to find a positive outlook. If friends, families, and classmates can recognize these negative thoughts then they can act accordingly to find help for themselves and others.Nobody takes their life for a single reason, there are multitudes of factors that influence the life breaking decision. The first step in encouraging a person with thoughts of suicide to live comes from talking about those feelings. A simple inquiry about whether or not the person is intending to end their life can start the conversation. However, talking about suicide should be done carefully, which is why awareness is crucial.Each year, approximately 24,000 college students attempt suicide, and 1,100 students succeed in their attempt, making suicide the second-leading cause of death among U.S. college students.At Mercyhurst, staff have done a great job promoting events where students can go to talk about their struggles. Just last week there was an event held by the Office of Residential life called, “You Don’t Have to Carry it All.” RAs discussed coping mechanisms while dealing with stress at this event.The community at Mercyhurst understands how important mental health is and should continue to show its support to those struggling.Anxiety can also have a strong correlation, especially for athletes. On many sports teams here, coaches are constantly looking out for the well being of their players. Head Coach Mike Sisti of the women’s hockey team knows how important being mentally in the right mindset is, and how it impacts a person’s physical abilities. Students on campus have great support systems and I believe mental health is finally being taken seriously. For anyone struggling, Mercyhurst offers discreet ways to get support and have someone to talk to.If you are dealing with suicidal thoughts, you are not alone. If you know anyone who is struggling, speak up, you could save a life.On campus, help is not far away, anyone can email or call the counseling center to set up a time to meet with a professional. Students are also encouraged to call Police and Safety for emergency help.Another resource is the 24 hour National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255