by Morgan Smith, Faith Editor
OBU students may have noticed a table in the GC this month, covered with flyers and pamphlets describing the warning signs of suicidal thoughts.
This month is Suicide Awareness Prevention Month. September 10 was Suicide Prevention Day.
The table was set up by OBU’s Marriage and Family Counseling Clinic to help raise awareness among OBU students and staff.
The clinic is located in the basement of Shawnee Hall. It offers counseling services to students, faculty and staff at no additional cost.
Brooke Runion and Megan Cross are two of the clinic’s graduate staff members. Runion is in her second year of the Marriage and Family graduate program.
“The month gave us a perfect opportunity to raise awareness for suicide prevention, and also to let students know that there are therapy services here on campus if they need to reach out and speak with someone, or if they know a friend who needs to,” Runion said.
The clinic has also sent out e-mails to employees and students and put up signs in Shawnee Hall to promote the clinic.
“We’re trying to give out information to spot the warning signs so you can be aware either of some within yourself or someone you’ve had contact with,” Cross said.
Fellow graduate student Mitchell DeShazer said suicidal thoughts are common, but the stigma attached to mental health people don’t typically want to discuss it.
“That can be problematic because when you’re alone sometimes with your thoughts and struggles it makes it harder to find some hope or find some support,” he said. “We want to kind of normalize this struggle that people tend to face.”
Cross said that the stigma attached to mental illness makes often makes people want to hide it, including Christians.
“If you start feeling bad or depressed or any of those thoughts then you tend to think, ‘I’m just not a good enough Christian, I just need to pray harder, I need my friends to not know about this because then they’ll know that I don’t find my value in God,’ all those sorts of thoughts,” Cross said.
“It just makes a problem worse, and I don’t think as a church we address those problems.”
DeShazer said that community is important to overcoming depression and suicidal thoughts.
“Sometimes breaking some of that stigma, especially as a Christians, is realizing God never designed us to be on our own, but to be interdependent with one another, and to be able to lean on one another and have a safe place with one another,” he said. “That brings freedom because we can share those burdens with one another.”
Some of the warning signs of suicide are talking about wanting to die, expressing feelings of hopelessness, withdrawing from others, extreme mood swings and reckless behavior.
However, DeShazer said that some warning signs can be difficult to spot.
“Sometimes some of the warning signs are maybe changes in habits,” he said. “If someone’s experiencing this and not sharing it with other people they might actually become really overly positive.”
There is a National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts can also call the Lifeline, 911, the clinic, or go to their Resident Advisor.
Those who suspect someone of experiencing suicidal thoughts are advised to ask them directly.
“If you as a friend notice that someone is feeling or acting this way, that outright question is probably the best,” Runion said.