Suicide Awareness & Prevention Panel seeks to break down stigmas

By Katherine Senechal, Reporter

Last Friday, EWU held a Suicide Awareness and Prevention panel for students to attend and learn about warning signs and resources available to them. The event was the put on by Edith Claro, an EWU student who works for the Office of Community Engagement (OCE) on campus.

The panel’s goal was to get students to start talking about this difficult topic and to make sure they know that there is always help out there. Representatives from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the Student Wellness Center and the EWU Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) attended the event.

Jon Weber, a psychological counselor on the Spokane campus, sat on the panel to represent CAPS and talked about their office, warning signs of suicide and how to help someone going through thoughts about it. The panel discussed how you also don’t have to be at any certain point before going to counseling, you can go and talk about anything and everything.

“You don’t have to hit rock bottom, especially in the counseling centers… anyone can come to counseling and we’re happy to talk about anything,” Weber said.

According to Laura Grant, another professional on the panel, these talks are about breaking down stigmas, making sure that people and the EWU students specifically know that therapy is not just for the severely depressed. Anyone can get help; no issue is too small to be talked about.

Though this may be a very hard conversation to have, it has a large impact on the U.S. and college populations. On average, there are 123 suicides per day with suicide being the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). In the EWU campus specifically, a survey showed that 10%, or about 1,300 EWU students, have seriously considered committing suicide.

Another point covered in this panel was brought up by Eagle Volunteers! leader Kelsey White. People sometimes don’t know how to seek out help or just feel like they can’t, whether it is a feeling of shame or embarrassment that they are dealing with this.

“They feel like there’s nobody else dealing with this… there are resources out there to help you,” White said. “There are people out there that care about you… I think sometimes our pride gets the best of us and we don’t admit that maybe we do need help.”

With the panel being an overall educational and helpful tool for the students that did attend, there were pieces of information that the people involved wanted the students, staff, and faculty to take home. The panel members and coordinators had an objective to educate on how to prevent suicide and to get people talking about such an intense and difficult topic.

“It’s OK to speak out and seek help. There’s help out there, even just talking to a friend, that can be impactful,” Claro said.

If you or anyone you know is seeking out the help mentioned in this article, CAPS is available online or by phone to EWU students.