• Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

Need help with a crisis? Sinclair’s Counseling Services is just a phone call away

Suicide awareness month

The following article was written in commemoration of Mental Health Awareness Month and mentions topics like suicide that some may find uncomfortable. If you, a loved one, or anyone you know has shown signs or is at risk, please call Ohio’s Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.

Few topics are as difficult to discuss as suicide and mental health challenges. Despite more resources being available now more than ever, people are still falling through the cracks. Efforts to raise awareness are a matter of life and death in some cases. On campus, Counseling Services is leading the charge. 

The Clarion’s recent article on the late Jeni Haber spotlighted just some of the wreckage left behind when a person takes their life. As her story showed, the domino effect caused by such pain can resonate long after a death. Many are left with questions, left second-guessing their interactions with the deceased. Its something Eric Henderson, Manager of Counseling Services at Sinclair, knows all too well. 

“I would say for almost all cases it comes down to not feeling like there is any hope left,” Henderson said about the cause of suicide. “It’s not just people that are depressed that contemplate taking their own life. Maybe they received a diagnosis or experienced some kind of trauma that has left them feeling a certain way. Sometimes people like to silo things to make it make sense but that isn’t how emotions work.”

Statistics affirm Henderson’s point. Just last year, nearly 50,000 Americans died by suicide according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). There were also 1.70 million suicide attempts in 2021. Data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimated one death by suicide every 11 minutes that year. It was also among the top 9 causes of death for Americans aged 10-64 and the second leading cause of death for those aged 10-14 and 20-34.

“There are some classic signs such as a person changing their behavior, putting distance between them and their loved ones, or giving away their belongings, that offer the people in their life a chance to step in and ask how they’re doing. Because oftentimes people feel that shame and stigma so it’s hard for them to reach out,” Henderson added. 

The counselor acknowledged that things were a bit different for the younger generation, who are more open to talking about mental health. A stigma still exists but more education and a changing of the narrative around suicide is helping people open up.

“In the world of mental health one thing we are doing is changing the way we address suicide. Instead of using phrases like ‘committed suicide’ we try to educate people to use the term ‘died by suicide’. Typically, when we think of the word commit, we think of someone committing a crime,” he said. 

In addition to free counseling for students, other efforts undertaken by Henderson’s office include a week dedicated to suicide awareness in September.  Last year, the “Card of Hope” initiative allowed students to write cards to children in the mental health ward of the Children’s Hospital. Additionally, in partnership with Dayton’s AFSP chapter, wallet sized lifelines were given to students on campus. Outside September, Sinclair maintains a suicide prevention page and the Hope Link application to help guide those that believe a loved one is at risk. 

“ When you feel like giving up, just remember why you held on for so long.”

– Haley Williams

“Regardless of how bad things are or how hopeless they feel, finding someone to talk to can begin to ease the burden that’s weighing you down. I would all students to  reach out to give our counseling services an opportunity to help them. If they want to see someone in their community, need more long term or intensive support, we can help make those connections,” Henderson stated. 

Suicide is far from the only challenge Henderson’s team helps students with. They provide grief counseling, support various kinds of trauma, as well as many other obstacles college students face every year.  

But what can people do to bolster their mental health in addition to counselling sessions? Sinclair Ombudsman Amy Hartman recommends a number of activities. 

“In our field there’s been a major push toward self-care. We work hard to take care of ourselves,” she told The Clarion. 

Hartman believes its important that people work on their physical, mental, and emotional health as each is connected to the other. Something a simple as a walk, reading for leisure, and having good dietary habits can make the difference.

“Its also important to give our bodies not just sleep but rest. Some people might need a little downtime during the morning, some might need it toward the middle of the day. Others, like me, leave a little extra time at the end of the day to rest,” she said.

Five minutes of reading, diving into an audiobook, or listening to a podcast is also a huge help. According to Hartman, its important we focus on things that make us happy. 

“Another piece to good mental self-care is focusing on things that bring joy to our lives and avoiding things that do not. Being careful about what we’re taking in especially before we go to sleep at night,” she stated.

In addition to counseling, speaking to friends and other loved ones is another positive step. Making time for hobbies can help introduce you to new people at the very least. At most, it can be a highly rewarding experience. 

“I would always encourage someone to find a hobby. It doesn’t have to be one that costs a lot of money,” said Hartman. “Find a hobby and carve out some time for that hobby, it’s just good for our mental health.”

Sinclair offers confidential counseling to students free of charge. To contact Counseling Services call 937-512-3032. In cases of emergency, call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or Crisis Care at 937-224-4646.

(Featured Image from Canva)

Written by Ismael David Mujahid, Executive Editor