Student Health and Counseling Services is encouraging anyone that has a friend or family member that has died by suicide or even considered suicide to participate in the first-ever Forget-Me-Not Candle-Light Walk.
Suicide is a major public health concern. In the United States suicide is the 11th ranking cause of death and accounts for approximately 33,300 deaths each year. This means there is 1 death by suicide every 15.8 minutes, according to the American Association of Suicidology.
There are approximately one million lives lost each year throughout the world. This results in a yearly incidence of one suicide every 40 seconds. It is estimated that 10 to 20 suicide attempts are made per completed suicide; so, there are several million attempts made every year.
In 2008, Tennessee ranked 20th in the nation in rate of suicide deaths. That same year, deaths by suicide almost doubled the number of homicides.
Unfortunately, suicide also impacts college and university students. It is estimated that 1 out of 10 of the approximate 18 million U.S. college students has considered suicide. It is the second-leading cause of death for this age group.
Individuals of all ages, genders, ethnic groups and religions are affected by suicide and suicide behaviors. Ninety percent of those who die by suicide at any age have a diagnosable mental illness; predominantly depression.
Depression is treatable and manageable but people have to ask for help and/or be encouraged to get help. Risk factors for depression and suicide include mental illness, substance abuse, a sense of hopelessness, access to lethal means, recent loss of a loved one, unemployment and vulnerability to self-harm.
Protective factors include high self-esteem, social connectedness, problem-solving skills and support of family and friends. All of these factors help to provide a buffer against suicide and suicide behaviors.
It is estimated that there are at least six survivors for every suicide victim. Based on this estimate, within the last 25 years, approximately five million Americans became survivors of suicide. The good news is this devastating number can be reduced through more community awareness and prevention programs.
UTM Student Health and Counseling Services’ staff is committed to lowering these statistics by increasing our student and community populations’ awareness of suicide and the resources available for prevention and survivor therapy.
Please join us for the Forget-Me-Not Candle-Light Walk on Thursday from 5:30-6:30 p.m. We will meet in the Mary Jo and Lew Dougherty Tennessee Room of the McCombs Center.
The group will take a short walk through the UTM quad. Luminaries will be sold for $2 each prior to and during this event to honor anyone who has been impacted by suicide.
The Students of Concern Team also provides Suicide Awareness and Prevention training known as QPR or Question, Persuade and Refer.
Anyone interested in their campus organization or class receiving this training, should contact UTM Student Health and Counseling Services at 881-7750.
Editor’s note: Jenifer Hart, LMSW, is a clinical coordinator for Student Health and Counseling on the campus of the University of Tennessee at Martin.