Students, faculty and staff at the University of Connecticut are poised to begin the fourth annual Suicide Prevention Week, this year running from Sept. 19-24, in an effort to bring attention to what is the second leading cause of death among college students.
“By raising awareness, increasing sensitivity, and providing tools and resources, Suicide Prevention Week is a step for our communities to actively take care of its own members when they’re having their most difficult moments,” says Barry Schreier, director of Counseling and Mental Health Services at UConn.
The week will feature a range of talks, public displays, artwork and training, all intended to bring attention to the scourge and urge members of the community to be aware and watch for signs that a student is troubled or depressed, then reach out to get help. The slogan for the week, Be Aware Show You Care, reflects that hope.
Statistics regarding suicide on college campuses in the United States are staggering: nearly 1,100 suicides occur on college campuses annually; the suicide rate for 15-24 year olds has increased more than 200 percent since 1960; more than 11 percent of all college students have seriously considered attempting suicide; and one in 12 college students have made a suicide plan.
“It’s horrible but it is preventable,” says Schreier. “And if we can continue these awareness campaigns – and we will continue our efforts throughout the year – we can have a positive impact and help prevent the irreplaceable loss that is suicide.”
The week’s events are headlined by a speech by Frank Warren, founder of PostSecret, a blog in which Warren shares the stories behind the memorable postcards and secrets he has received, from deep family secrets to humorous reflections. He will discuss why his blog is important, how sharing secrets helps prevent suicide, and why he has made suicide awareness part of his life’s work. His talk will be held in the Jorgensen Theater for the Performing Arts on Monday, Spt. 19, from 7-8:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
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