September is national suicide prevention month. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention suicide claims more than 32,000 lives a year in the United States and is the number two cause of death among college aged students. According to the American Association of Suicidology suicide claims more lives than homicide.
Michael Day, director of Personal Counseling Services, said suicide does not discriminate, people of all genders, ethnicities and ages are affected.
Indiana University Southeast’s Personal Counseling Services has teamed up with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention for Out of the Darkness: Suicide Prevention Week.
Day said confidentiality is key and they offer individual and crisis counseling services, creating a safety plan for these individuals.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, lower levels of serotonin have been found in the brains of people with a history of suicide attempts. They said suicide is not a normal response to stress, nor is it an attempt to draw attention to oneself.
Joe Simon, history senior and president of the Student Veterans Organization, said veterans are also affected and have a very high suicide rate.Simon serves as a student veteran liaison. Simon said you do not have to be a veteran to be a part of SVO and anyone can be apart of the organization.
“We address all facets of student life and there are even some veterans in the fraternities and sororities on campus,”Simon said.
“My goal is to change the dialogue and make sure that veteran issues are being addressed,” Simon said.
Simon said he previously lost a friend to suicide and advocates for ways to help veterans. As a veteran himself, Simon said there was such a stigma around PTSD 10-years ago. He said service animals are becoming a means of steady support because the animals help keep the veteran grounded. Simon said that service animals were not really an option five years ago.
“PTSD was a very dirty word amongst the community and it was considered a broken soldier thing,” Simon said.
Simon said he met with the Kentucky Shakespeare Veterans group a couple of months ago and was impressed with how they used art as a way to cope. Simon said it was therapeutic and constructive and has allowed for the Kentucky Shakespeare Veterans to partner with local theater departments.
Kentucky Shakespeare Veterans are a group of veterans who perform dialogue that deals with suicide and PTSD. There is dialogue and interaction between the actors and the crowd. It is therapeutic and allows the veterans to express their creativity.
“We don’t think actor, poet or artist when we think of veteran,” Simon said.
The Kentucky Shakespeare Veterans will be performing at IUS during Suicide Prevention Week.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 90 percent of all people who die by suicide have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder at their time of death.
The Survivors of Suicide Group in Jeffersonville offer a support group for those affected by the loss of a loved one to suicide. Personal counseling services are available as well. QPR Institute is offering free training in suicide prevention on Sept. 21 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on campus.
Suicide Prevention Week ends with the Out of the Darkness Walk. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the Out of Darkness Walk is the largest suicide prevention walk in the United States with hundreds of communities around the country participating every year. Although in most communities it usually consists of a five kilometer walk, there is an 18 mile national walk that takes place in different cities around the country each year.
Day said 200 people participated in the walk last year and it will take place come rain or shine. He said there was a backup location just in case it rained. This would consist of walking in a figure eight in the Hoosier Room.
Day said Indiana University Southeast has raised $1,505 for this cause and currently have 34 participants signed up. He said more people usually sign up closer to the event date.