Tenth Annual Suicide Prevention Week kicks off with meditation, resource fairs

Jackson Barton

Meditating students were serenaded by the beat of Naya Jones’ drum as she told stories of her journey to Mexico on Tuesday evening at the Student Activity Center. Jones, a meditation guide, also discussed how she incorporates self care into her everyday life at the event, which marked the second day of Suicide Prevention Week.

The Counseling and Mental Health Center is hosting their 10th annual Suicide Prevention Week in the form of guest lecturers, support groups and social bond building workshops.

“As people are coming into their identity as they move through college, students may not have their support system they normally have,” said Jones, a family and community medicine instructor at the Medical College of Wisconsin. “It’s a very critical time to build that self care.”

According to a 2017 assessment by the American College Health Association, 9.3 percent of the 1,056 UT students who responded to the survey seriously considered suicide in the past 12 months. Nearly 2 percent of respondents made a suicide attempt in the past 12 months.

“There’s no one single factor that can contribute to someone having thoughts of suicide,” said Michelle Emery, CMHC suicide prevention coordinator. “We understand that … y’all are complex human beings who need support.”

CMHC staff hosted a resource fair on the Flawn Academic Center patio Monday. Alyssa Gonzales, public relations senior and peer educator for CMHC, brought her dog, Milo.

“He had been home all day and dogs make people happy … so I figured why not,” Gonzales said.

Part of the resource fair included a poster board covered in short notes with words of encouragement or advice for a friend of someone who may be struggling with suicidal thoughts. 

When psychology junior Ethan Randecker knew someone who was struggling with thoughts of suicide, he said he found it difficult to understand their thoughts and feelings.

“It kinda makes you mindful of how you never know what’s going on in other people’s lives,” Randecker said.

Emery said even students who do not struggle with suicide still need to be aware of the warning signs.

“We never know who in our life might be experiencing those thoughts and going through a really hard time,” Emery said. “We have responsibility to one another. Even if I never have that experience myself, I still have a role to play in terms of people in my life who I can be there for.”