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September was Suicide Prevention Month: Members of Eastern’s community reflect on their experiences and opinions regarding suicide, mental health, and more.

The Aftermath: How an uncle’s suicide shapes a young girl

by Gabrielle Pardocchi

My uncle committed suicide when I was nine years old. At least, I think he did. He had been battling with a drug addiction for years, before overdosing in 2008. He had told my grandmother a few months before that he wished he could end his suffering. There was no note. There was no goodbye.

At nine years old, you don’t really understand death, much less suicide. You don’t understand why they won’t be able to have wrestling matches with you anymore or why they won’t be there to play makeover. You just know that they won’t. I didn’t understand what had happened to my uncle until I was much older. I didn’t understand the pain of the world that weighed on him, until I started to feel it myself.

When I finally started to understand what he did, I was angry and confused. I didn’t understand why my uncle couldn’t fight it. I didn’t understand why he just gave in.

The most troubling part of my uncle’s death is that no one really knows if it was an accident or not. My family is split in the middle, believing what they like. As someone who knows people that have experience depression and suicidal thoughts, I don’t believe it was an accident. The pain that some people feel is overwhelming; it feels like it will never stop.

Even after suicide, the pain never does stop. The pain was transferred to my grandparents, my mother, my sister, and I. When a person ends their life, the pain may leave them, but it moves on to those they left behind. Even after eleven years, the pain still weighs in my chest. I have always wondered what life would have been like if my uncle would have stayed to see another day.

Sources: Insider

Systemic Suffering: How the mental health crisis can be seen as a systemic issue going into the election.

By Abigail Brooke

Suicide prevention is challenging and important work. It is crucial that we show up for each other in times of suffering, and that we end the stigma surrounding mental health, and all else that goes into the traditional understanding of caring for mental health. However, the issue is bigger than just the conversations we have.

In order to truly prevent suicide, we as a society must make strides toward systemic change in the ways in which we treat one another and what is expected of us. Common causes of suicide include financial trouble, substance abuse issues, being a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, and more. Though this list is not exhaustive, it represents many aspects of what can drive people to hopelessness and even suicidal ideation – and they are all fixable.

Ensuring universal access to substance abuse treatment, for example, can save lives. Support for LGBTQIA+ people, both in interpersonal and professional instances, can save lives. Adequate care for the people who are poor or houseless can save lives. Instituting programs and laws that make it easier for people of all walks of life to live saves lives.

Suicide prevention is bigger than being kind to others and sending a caring text. It means thinking outside of yourself and advocating for change that can truly save lives. If you truly want to prevent suicide, work to counteract the issues that drive people to it. Consider the experiences of marginalized people in your voting, donating, and volunteering, as it could save lives.

Source: Mayo Clinic

Coping with Suicidal Thoughts: An Interview with Dr. Lisa Hemlick, director of the Cushing Center

By Megan Schoenleb

According to National Today, “There are an average of 123 suicides each day in this country. It’s the tenth leading cause of death in America — second leading for ages 25-34, and third leading for ages 15-24.” While this is an awful reality, it is perhaps unsurprising; after all, college life is challenging. Depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and mental health in general need to be taken seriously – both by college students and the people and institutions that host them.

At Eastern University, the Cushing Center for Counselling and Academic Support (CCAS), located on the third floor of Walton Hall and headed by Director Dr. Lisa Hemlick, provides free counselling. According to Dr. Hemlick in an interview, everyone at CCAS has experience, is hand-picked for each student, and is committed “to help students to function well in the role of the student, and help them get the most out of that experience.” Despite being free, the “Services here are professional counseling services.” For those who have never received counseling before, it can be difficult to take that step.

In my case, I felt like my problems were easy compared to those of others. Dr. Hemlick pointed out that “People feel it’s a sign of weakness, that they need help,” but that “It can be a sign of strength to take care of a problem.” If you are unsure, you can try a session before deciding to commit. Personally, I have received counseling at Eastern for two years and am better for it. When asked what students should do if they are having suicidal thoughts, Dr. Hemlick said that “they should take it seriously and not condemn themselves for having those thoughts.” She also said that “scriptures tell us to shine the light on things… telling someone is the first step to moving on.” For mental health in general, she said to “put your focus on the things you’re doing well.” There is hope, and there is help if you need it. CCAS is only open and on-call from eight-thirty am to five pm. If you are in a crisis outside those hours, please call one of the Hotlines.

Source: National Today

Caring as God Commanded: Understanding the signs of suicidal thoughts, faith, and support.

By Colton Domblesky

It’s never an easy thing to discuss, but with mental health becoming less and less of a priority among college students and young adults, it needs to be discussed. Some of you may have connections with it, whether it’s personal or through a loved one. Either way, the effects are lasting for individuals who have experienced it firsthand or felt the shockwaves of it from another.

To avoid this trauma, we need to be aware of the signs of suicidal thoughts in ourselves and our peers. Suicidal thoughts and tendencies are never the same between individuals. However, there are three general areas in which a peer may express suicidal thoughts: talk, behavior, and mood. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), people expressing suicidal thoughts may talk about how they feel hopeless, like a burden to others, or how they feel trapped. Behaviorally, they may appear withdrawn from certain situations, isolate themselves from others, or increase risky behaviors such as drinking or doing drugs.

Emotionally, suicidal individuals may express a wide variety of emotions like sadness, fear, indifference, or irritability. Suicidal thoughts are not always expressed uniformly; the key is to notice and talk to the person about any vast differences you notice in them.

As Christians, faith can play a major part in our mental well-being and health. In fact, we might think of self-care as turning to scripture, prayer, worship, journaling, or talking to a pastor about our problems. While these are all valid options, they are not the only choices. Self-care is by no means uniform, whether you are a Christian or not. How we pour into ourselves is different from how a friend pours into themselves.

In fact, as a Student Chaplain, I can say that the Student Chaplain Program is an advocate for self-care in any form because we are all unique beings made in the image of God. Whether your self-care looks like praying, worshipping, watching movies, or ordering food, God has your back, and so do we. The Student Chaplains are here for you in your times of need, as it is our job to love you and make sure you are taking care of yourself.

Source: ASFP

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