Advocacy is central to our Student Senate and we’d like to take some time to acknowledge September as Suicide Prevention Month. Please be aware that suicidal tendencies are talked about in the coming paragraphs.

National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month is a time to share resources and stories, to reach out to those affected by suicide and to connect individuals with suicidal ideation to treatment services. By raising awareness we ensure individuals have access to resources they need to begin open dialogues and discussions on suicide prevention and in turn break down feelings of shame as well as stigmas which prevent them from talking openly.

Here are just some of the ways in which we can begin to create awareness of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and advocate for effected individuals, friends and family.

De-stigmatization
This can encompass a lot! Start with your language. If you struggle with how to talk about suicide, you’re not alone. The reason it can be so tough is because there is still a strong stigma surrounding all aspects of mental health. Instead of saying “commit” or “successful” suicide, say “died by suicide” or “killed themselves.” Commit has strong legalistic connotations, such as within commit arson or commit murder, and “success” can imply that an attempt is a failure. Remember, our words are powerful.

Talk About It
One of the biggest misconceptions about suicide is that if you bring it up, you will put the idea in someone’s head. This is not true. Asking honestly about whether someone wants to kill themselves, in a safe place, can turn into a conversation about support, care and resources. Having a support network where the person can be unconditionally accepted and loved is key to working through thoughts of wanting to kill yourself.

Know Your Resources
If you are having thoughts of wanting to kill yourself or know someone who might, know that you are loved and you are not alone. Here at UNC, the Counseling Center has quick-access virtual appointments from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. by calling 970-351-2496 or emailing unccounselingcenter@unco.edu.

The Psychological Services Clinic also offers telehealth appointments by calling 970-351-1645. If you are wanting to seek services outside of UNC, North Range Behavioral Health Center offers a variety of services. The following is the National Suicide Prevention Hotline if you are needing to talk over the phone: 800-273-8255. If you prefer to text, you can message 741741 and say “hello” to speak with a counselor. If you are in immediate crisis and/or are worried about your safety, please go to the emergency room.

These services can and should be accessed at any time. There is no threshold to hit before you should access these resources.

Advocate
Suicide prevention goes so much further than the individual. There are many ways to address some of the systemic risk factors of suicide. Consider voting for legislation that addresses the following: universal health care, accessible mental health programs/social programs, such as SNAP and TANF, reallocation of funding to public programs that support schools and community safety and combatting discrimination of diverse communities including BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, people with disabilities and so forth. All these systemic issues touch on some of the societal conditions that can contribute to suicidal thoughts. Some of these societal conditions include a lack of social support, financial hardships, discrimination, lack of access to healthcare and feelings of hopelessness.

Suicide is not something to be taken lightly, it is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. Remember, you are not alone. There is a whole support system out here, talk about it.

This year, Student Senate wants to bring more awareness of different communities on campus, through more inclusive events and activities, both online and in-person. We want to encourage the understanding that everyone comes from a different background, everyone has a different life story. No two people here at UNC are the same and that’s what makes us all unique as well as being able to come together and create such a strong sense of community. We see you, we hear you, and we are going to change things.


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