Suicide Awareness: spreading resources, education

Butte College put on the event Don’t Sit in Silence, by putting out 110 chairs on its lawn to represent 10 percent of college students that commit suicide each year. Photo credit: Sabrina Salvatore

Chico State and Butte Community College are actively promoting suicide awareness. Butte will be informing students during the month of September, which is nationally known as Suicide Prevention Month, while Chico State will be putting on events in October. Both aim to help people find resources to better educate themselves on the topic.

Jasmine Buck, marriage and family therapy graduate student and event intern coordinator for Umatter, is helping to organize suicide prevention week at Chico State. Photo credit: Sabrina Salvatore

Jasmine Buck, marriage and family therapy graduate student and event intern coordinator for Umatter, is helping to organize suicide prevention week, Oct. 5-10.

“We plan the week so the Out of Darkness Community Walk is the finale event of the week,” Buck said. “It’s run by The American Awareness for Suicide Prevention, but we help sponsor it as well as bring an activity and table with information to the walk.”

Umatter is a program on Chico State’s campus that helps promote positive mental health and raises awareness about emotional health and physical self-care. It also helps teach skills to students to make the best choices in college and throughout their lives.

Buck says the organization puts up the “Before I Die Wall” during Chico State’s suicide prevention week on campus for students to participate in. On Oct.10, the wall will be placed in the Downtown Plaza for all to use.

Umatter is participating by promoting on-campus events during the week such as:

  • Movies for mental health – On Oct. 5, there will be movies, free dinner and a discussion at 6:30 p.m. in the UHUB.
  • Help! You need somebody! – On Oct. 8, comedian and mental health advocate Sara Benincasa will be on campus at 7 p.m. in the BMU Auditorium.
  • Out of the Darkness Community Walk – On Oct. 10 there will be a community walk and the Before I Die Wall will be in the Downtown Plaza at 9 a.m.
  • Before I Die Wall – The wall will be featured in the Student Services Center Plaza Oct. 5-9 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Buck says all these events are free of charge and anyone can attend the events, including survivors or anyone who has lost someone to suicide.

“At the Movies for Mental Health, we have counselors from our counseling center, people from the community speaking, one of our interns, as well as the family of the student on campus we recently lost to suicide,” Buck said. “They are advocates who are very involved and vocal about everything, especially since it has only been a year since it has happened.”

Sara Benincasa, comedian and mental health advocate, will be putting on a presentation about personal experience with agoraphobia, depression and suicide.

She finds ways to describe the experiences humorously, while also helping potential victims and their loved ones know how to talk about these issues and prevent them from happening, Buck said.

Safe Place and Wellness Center at Butte Community College is participating in September’s National Suicide Prevention Month.

Breanna Boyer, third semester psychology major and student assistant and peer educator at Safe Place, helps provide resources to students who are in need of help. Photo credit: Sabrina Salvatore

Breanna Boyer, student assistant and peer educator at Safe Place, helps with the program on campus to support and educate students about personal traumas and crises they are dealing with. She also provides further resources for them.

“We’re putting on the event Don’t Sit in Silence to help students visualize how many people can be affected,” Boyer said. “And the 110 chairs on the lawn represent the 10 percent of college students that commit suicide each year.”

They attached blank pieces of paper to each chair so that students can write words of encouragement, personal thoughts, dedications or whatever they felt they wanted to share to further give voice to those who would usually remain silent, Boyer said.

According to College Degree Search, suicide rates among students alone include:

  • 1,100 students commit suicide per 100,000 students enrolled in college.
  • 1 in 12 students have actually made a suicide plan at some point.
  • Twice as many men ages 20-24 will commit suicide compared to women.
  • In the past 50 years, the suicide rates of students ages 15-24 has increased by 200 percent.

Butte College is also displaying a Before I Die Wall and helping to promote Project Semicolon, Boyer said. The project stands for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, suicide and their will to continue on living.

“We want to raise awareness with these interactive demonstrations that suicide is something that can be talked about,” Boyer said. “You don’t have to feel alone in it.”

Sabrina Salvatore can be reached at [email protected] or @ssalvatore09 on Twitter.