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IPFW Calls for Suicide Prevention

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Photo credit: Communicator archives

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Written by: Communicator StaffSeptember 09, 2015

Written by Bernadette Becker

September 10 marks World Suicide Prevention day, however, the faculty and students of IPFW have decided to raise awareness for the entire week of September 7-12. These dates mark the 3rd annual Suicide Prevention week at IPFW, which will include a stockpile of information and tools to help students deal with the issue of suicide.

This year’s week has unprecedented support from various groups around the campus and Veterans Affairs, and is especially timely because of the recent “Care Package” which Sen. Donnelly added to the Defense bill, aiming to improve mental health care for servicemembers and veterans.

IPFW has over 800 veterans on campus according to information given to Mary Ross, a faculty member in the Psychology Department with experience in social work and the director of COMPASS, and as part of the Suicide Prevention week one goal is to inform veterans of all the resources which IPFW and the VA has to offer. These include a Mobile Vet Center, which allows mental health resources and counseling to reach out even to the rural parts of the country.

Another aspect of this week is to highlight the resources which IPFW has to offer to students of any background. The reason IPFW is particularly equipped to handle mental health is due to a $283,000 grant from the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act. The grant went to aid project COMPASS (Community Partners Against Student Suicide) in its work to prevent suicide particularly, amongst three vulnerable groups: students who are part of the LGBTQ+ community, veteran and military students, and racial and ethnic minority students.

“Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among college students,” stated Tyler Borsa, citing the American Psychological Association statistics from 2011.

Borsa is one of many who have spent the past three months coordinating the weeklong events; moreover, he noted that while many freshman feel overcome by support during the first few months of college, support seems die off in time, and students don’t reach out when they feel depressed because they don’t realize the resources they have.

Active Minds, a student group on campus, works year round to inform and assist students regarding mental health issues. However, Suicide Prevention week especially emphasizes campus options for counseling services, online mental health screenings, positive coping skills and provides motivation for students to be “gatekeepers.”

“The gatekeepers” are people who keep watch for the signs of suicidal thoughts or depression, then speak up to get people to help. It might be a simple suggestion to visit the IPFW Counseling center, or telling a professor, coach, or relative of the person that he or she is in need of help. There will be two possible Gatekeeper Training sessions during the week and anyone is welcome to attend.

Mary Ross remarked that many first generation students or those coming from a rural background will be susceptible to suicide because they feel a lack of support. Anyone can become depressed. The goal of  Suicide Prevention Week is to demonstrate that no one has to battle alone.