Coalition hopes to decrease statistic

Brianne Carlon

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for young people ages 15 through 24, according to the Suicide Prevention Advocacy Network, and claims more than 31,000 lives annually.

Kent State is doing its part to prevent suicidal actions and behavior on campus. The Kent State University Suicide Prevention Coalition was formed in April 2004 and includes 55 members across campus, said Pamela Farer-Singleton, chief psychologist of Psychological Services. Members meet monthly to address suicide issues.

The coalition was spurred after results from the 2003 National College Health Risk Behavior Survey came in. The survey showed 25 percent of the Kent State sample group of students suffered depression in the past year, Farer-Singleton said. eleven percent attempted suicide and 49 percent admitted to feeling so depressed they found it hard to function in the past year.

“Our goal is to reduce the incidents of suicidal behavior and suicide within the campus community,” said Barbara Drew, assistant nursing professor. The coalition plans to accomplish the goal through education, intervention and support directed at the university community.

“We do education and outreach to numerous student groups,” Farer-Singleton said. Many groups within Kent State are involved with the coalition including Residence Services, Judicial Affairs and Kent State University Police Department. Academic departments, such as nursing, are also involved.

Three clinics are available to students who feel they need help or someone to talk to, Farer-Singleton said. The Psychological Services is located on the second floor of DeWeese Health Center, and the Psychological Clinic is located on the first floor. Also, students can find help at the Counseling and Human Development Center at White Hall. The first session of counseling is free and each additional session costs $24 each at the clinic. Student insurance is available.

“The coalition is improving communication within the university dealing with suicide,” Drew said. It plans to make the university Web site easier to navigate in the situation a student is looking for help while contemplating suicide.

“It is in the process of initiating changes,” she said.

The Psychological Services also sponsors National Depression Screening Day every October in the Student Center. It is free to speak with an experienced counselor.

As of the fall 2004 semester, every incoming freshman receives the Wallet Card, which was created by integrated health studies major Sarah Hallsky. The card has tips on how to recognize a friend with suicidal thoughts and what students can do to help.

The suicide coalition is entirely funded by University Health Services.

“The coalition welcomes any contributions to our effort,” Farer-Singleton said.

According to Facts and Fables on Suicide, by Thomas DiNardo, staff psychologist at Psychological Services, many students assume everyone that commits suicide is mentally ill. Although suicidal people are extremely unhappy, they are not necessarily mentally ill, DiNardo said.

According to the American College Health Association, “depression is fairly common among college students who often are living on their own for the first time, developing new relationships and challenging old ideas.”

The association suggests getting help if depression persists for several weeks, becomes severe or leads to self-destructive thoughts and/or behavior.

“Depression is a very treatable illness and, despite hesitancies to get help, it can greatly enhance (students’) ability to function and succeed here at school,” Farer-Singleton said.

For more information call (330) 672-2487, or e-mail Farer-Singleton at [email protected]

Contact student life reporter Brianne Carlon at [email protected].