Center informs about suicide prevention

Being away from home for the first time can be difficult for many college students. But when that feeling of isolation increases, students can become a danger to themselves, said Julie Cerel, an assistant professor in the College of Social Work.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for college students, Cerel said. This week, UK is working to change that statistic.

The Counseling and Testing Center is working with the Social Work Student Association to inform students during Suicide Prevention Week, which began on Sunday. The two organizations will staff tables outside of the White Hall Classroom Building on Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.

It is important to teach people about suicide prevention because they often do not realize what a prevalent issue it is, said Tina Bryant of the Counseling and Testing Center.

“This week raises awareness that suicide is an issue,” Bryant said. “There are more suicides than homicides in our country.”

Some factors in suicide include untreated mental illness and substance abuse, Cerel said. A factor for college students is a feeling of isolation, she said, because students are away from their social support systems.

Students can find information about how to recognize symptoms at the display, Bryant said, which could help people recognize suicidal behavior in their friends or in themselves.

“Hopelessness is probably the key symptom,” she said. “We want to get people to be aware of the symptoms, like depression, or there might have been a drastic change in people’s lives.”

The Counseling and Testing Center also offers a training program called Question, Persuade and Refer. The prevention program trains people to recognize signs and how to ask a person if they are feeling suicidal.

“It trains to ask people directly, ‘Are you thinking about hurting yourself?’ ” Bryant said.

The QPR program is helpful on campus because it shows that anyone can recognize the signs that somebody might be at risk for suicide, Cerel said, because it most likely won’t be a professional to first notice someone needs help.

“It’s a roommate, a classmate or a teammate that first sees the signs,” Cerel said. “We are in a caring community where we need to look out for each other.”