LOUNDONVILLE, N.Y. (NEWS10) — September is Suicide Prevention Month, and Siena College is launching a new campaign to address it head-on.
It’s called “Saints Say Suicide,” and it encourages direct communication as a means of intervention.
“Everyone has training on how to ask a student point blank, ‘do you have suicidal ideation?’ ‘Are you OK?,’ and we know what to do with any answer that comes from that,” said junior student, Kelsey Baron.
Baron works alongside Kate Kaufman Burns, Director of the Health Promotion Office, which is newly created in response to the national mental health crisis.
“College campuses have found an overwhelming increase in referrals to counseling centers,” said Kaufman Burns.
She says the de-stigmatization of mental health has caused more students to seek help but not those who need it the most.
“We have to keep encouraging those students, those people to rely on the resources that are there to help and it’s everyone’s responsibly to build those bridges,” said Kaufman Burns.
The new awareness campaign trains faculty, administrators, and students to intervene on a suicidal student’s behalf. Senior student and orientation leader Lenah Farah says it’s freshmen who are most at risk.
“Feeling uncomfortable in a new environment can be definitely stressful, so it’s very important, especially as leaders, to be aware of those signs, especially body language or mood changes,” she said.
And that’s where the intervention comes in. When preventing suicide, there’s no dancing around that uncomfortable word.
“Say the word, offer the help, make the connection,” said Kaufman Burns.
She says it’s all about connecting students to resources and other students with whom they can form relationships with and confront suicide head-on.
“Changing the language, changing the stigma, to not be afraid to ask those really difficult questions and knowing it’s going to help,” said Baron.
If you or someone you know is suicidal, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which is available 24 hours every day: 1-800-273-8255.